Teens eager to drive often have parents equally concerned about keeping their new drivers safe. In fact, the rate of fatal crashes per mile driven for teen drivers is 3X that of drivers over age 20.1 The reality is that novice drivers can take years to develop real-world experience behind the wheel.
Until then, parents can set expectations for safe driving behaviors, provide opportunities to practice in a safe environment and stay involved, even after their teen earns a driver’s license. Help teen drivers stay safe behind the wheel by preparing them for risks on the road with this teen driver timeline.
One Year in Advance: Set a Good ExampleStarting long before your teen receives his or her driver’s license, demonstrate the kind of safe driving behaviors you will expect from your teen, including never driving while distracted by technology. It should be an easier conversation when it comes to setting expectations when your teen gets behind the wheel if those expectations reflect your own behavior.
While distracted driving is dangerous for all drivers, Dr. Charlie Klauer, who studies teen risk and injury prevention at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, has found that the risks are much higher for novice drivers who engage in manual-visual tasks, such as texting while driving.2
Less Than a Year in Advance: Discuss Dangerous BehaviorsParents can help teens understand how certain behaviors behind the wheel may increase the risk of a crash. These behaviors include speeding, tailgating, drowsy driving or driving under the influence of alcohol or while distracted. Engaging in two or more of these behaviors at the same time may greatly increase the risk of crashes, according to Dr. Klauer.3 Parents should discuss the importance of safe speeds, a safe following distance and being aware of potentially dangerous conditions.
Six Months in Advance: Set Specific ExpectationsTalk with your teen about his or her plans for driving. If your teen plans to drive, does he or she plan to drive every day? Does he or she plan on owning a car? Discuss the potential risks of driving, including legal and financial responsibilities, which can include insurance premiums, repair costs and fines for unsafe driving.
Establish the rules of the house, including when and where your teen is allowed to drive, so he or she knows your expectations. For example:
There are also teen driver apps that can monitor driving behavior, including speeding.
Four Months in Advance: Know the Rules of the RoadMany states have extensive learner’s permits and graduated driver’s license laws. It is important to learn the rules and guidelines for your state. Strive not to just meet the minimum requirements, such as hours driven with supervision, but to exceed them. Most state departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) offer a driver's handbook, which may also be available online.
Three Months in Advance: Plan for the UnexpectedTalk with teens about what to do if they are in a car accident. Do not assume new drivers instinctively know the basics, such as getting the other driver’s insurance and contact information, calling the police, taking pictures, completing an accident report and notifying your insurance company as soon as possible.
Help them pack an emergency kit for the car and discuss what they will do if their car breaks down on the road, including getting the car to a safe place before they get out. Make sure they have the number for roadside assistance, if you have a service that they can call.
Road Test Day and Beyond: Continue the ConversationStay involved with your teen driver even after he or she gets a driver’s license. Let him or her know it’s okay to ask you for help or for more practice. Encourage your teen to only drive in conditions where he or she feels safe. Continually review the safety guidelines, including prohibition of use of portable electronic devices while driving, which you discussed before they earned their license, so it remains top-of-mind.
Remember, even after a new driver takes the keys, continuing to talk about your expectations for safe behavior can help reinforce good decisions.
Overweight people are in the firing line again. Life insurance companies are increasing premiums up to four fold for fat people. They've always charged more for those of us who over-eat, but during the last year the penalties have got worse.
In moves to tighten the belts further, the life insurers are lowering the weight limits they use to categorise people. This tougher move means that those who are merely overweight and would have previously qualified for a standard premium, are now penalised with higher premiums – and the premium rapidly rises the more overweight they believe you are.
Height and weight are just two of the questions you have to answer when you apply for life insurance. From them, the life company calculates your Body Mass Index and if that exceeds the limits they define as acceptable, they might ask for a doctor's report. In bigger cases they might ask you to have a medical examination. If this confirms that your weight is of concern, then you can expect your premium to be loaded by at least 50% and as much as 400% if you're really obese. Recent research shows that around 25% of applicants will experience problems getting life cover due to their weight. In extreme cases the insurer will even refuse the application.
In an acknowledgement of normal middle age spread, the insurance companies do take your age into account when deciding your premium. They accept that people naturally tend to put weight on as they age. If you're young and overweight, however, they'll certainly hit you hard. So overweight and 38 will be hit much harder than overweight and 58.
For example, a non smoking healthy man aged 35 asking for £150,000 level cover over 25 years will currently be quoted £18.77 by Scottish Provident but this could easily jump to £35 if he is overweight and up to £47 if he's obese.
And obesity is certainly a growing problem. Over the last 20 years obesity in adults has rocketed with more than 60% of men and 50% of women being judged as overweight or obese. And signs are that the problem won't improve. In children aged between 2 and 15, 28% of girls and 22% of boys are overweight.
How do you rate on the Body Mass Index?
Calculate your own BMI.
Note your weight in pounds and multiply it by 703.
Divide the result by your height measured in inches
Again divide the resulting number by your height in inches
The result is your BMI
The typical insurance company considers a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 to as normal. Above 25 classifies you as overweight. Over 30 and you're obese.
To give you more of a fix on what this means for you, here are the BMI's for twelve famous people:
Paula Radcliffe – Marathon Runner - 18.0
Victoria Beckham – Footballers Wife - 17.0
Jennifer Aniston – Actress - 17.5
Alan Shearer – Newcastle Footballer - 24.4
Davina McCall – TV Presenter - 20.8
Cilla Black – Presenter - 20.7
Russell Crowe – Hollywood Actor - 25.6
Ann Widdecombe – MP - 25.1
Charlie Dimmock – Gardening Presenter - 26.0
Norman Schwarzkopf – US General - 30.5
Michelle McManus – Presenter - 34.4
Dawn French – Comedienne - 43.8