Auto insurance agents are often asked by parents “What type of vehicle would you recommend that we buy for our child who has just become eligible to drive?”
The auto insurance agent will have, in most cases, a very different response than the young person who just became eligible to drive. Almost every young person sees themselves driving a sporty small car that drives fast and has great acceleration. Most auto insurance agents will recommend something big and slow.
My fifty-five years as an auto insurance agent has lead me to believe that when young people start to drive they go through three phases:
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- The first phase is when they just start to drive and are still very stiff and cautious. The parents may still ride with the young driver and have control and limitations in place to limit time and amount of driving. There are usually few accidents during this phase.
- The second driving phase is that period when the young person has been driving long enough, usually 12 to 24 months, and they have developed their skill. This is in my opinion, the dangerous phase because young people have so many distractions such as watching people outside the vehicle, distractions from people in the vehicle, spilling a drink, changing the radio station, texting. Drivers in this phase usually tend to drive faster, are given more freedom by their parents, are more subject to having a car load of friends when they drive. This is the driving phase that I have found to be the most likely when a young person will have an accident therefore my suggestion that their first vehicle be big, slow with a lot of metal surrounding the child.
- The third phase is after the young person has been driving for a period of two years or so and, perhaps has incurred a “fender bender” that hopefully was not too bad and no one was injured. By this time driving will no longer be looked at as a new exciting freedom event and the driver has logged enough driving hours to have developed their automatic sub-conscious reactions that will help avoid an accident. This is the safest driving phase.