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As a parent, it's up to you to help your teens become safer drivers. Here are some suggestions:

Choosing a vehicle: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which crash-tests dozens of vehicles each year, advises parents to choose a midsize vehicle with lots of safety features such as air bags and antilock brakes. Choose the newest model your budget can afford since most of today's cars are better designed for crash protection than vehicles six to 10 years old. Before making a final choice on the vehicle your teenager will drive, check out the consumer information on car safety available from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Insurance Information Institute, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and, of course, your Farmers agent.

Phase in driving privileges: Graduated licensing programs, now in force in 24 states, phase in privileges such as nighttime driving, to allow young drivers to build experience. If you don't live in a graduated licensing state, you can do the job yourself. For example, have your new driver spend at least four months driving with you in the car, then another four months driving alone before you allow him/her to drive friends.

Spell out the rules clearly: Be specific about the time they should be home, when and how many friends they can have in the car, and so on. You should always know where your new driver is going.

Spell out the consequences: Your teen needs to understand that if these obligations are not met, there will be consequences, including surrendering the car keys.

Make your driver pay: Another way to encourage mature behavior is to make your child financially responsible for buying and maintaining the vehicle.

Send them to school: It's a good idea to get your teen some supplemental driving instruction, whether it's a one-time safety course or a full-fledged driving school. Check out Farmers' teen driver education program, You're Essential to Safety (Y.E.S.), free to all young drivers.

Be sure to speak with your Farmer's agent ahead of time about adding a teen driver to your policy and review your Auto insurance coverage annually.

Posted 12:59 PM  View Comments

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