Did you ever wonder why it is that teenagers have to pay so much more, about two three times more than adults for auto insurance? Research on age- related driving habits and accident records has concluded that somewhere around the age of 65, drivers face an increased risk of being involved in an accident!
Car accidents – also called road traffic accidents (RTAs), traffic collisions, auto accidents, road accidents, personal injury collisions, motor vehicle accidents, and crashes – kill an estimated 1.2 million people worldwide each year, and injure about forty times this number . (WHO, 2004)
Wikipedia also says that the term accident is considered an inappropriate word by some, as reliable sources estimate that upwards of 90% are the result of driver negligence. A great deal of research has been done on the factors contributing to negligence and accidents. Articles and statistics can be found on such causes as drowsiness, alcohol, distractions like cell phone usage, road rage, and vehicle type.
All of these variables and poor habits have been shown to directly cause accidents. Most of those factors apply to adults as well as teens. Yet insurance companies don’t seem to take those behavior problems into consideration when they figure premiums.
Our insurance carrier gives breaks on your bills for: good grades, not smoking, seat belts in the car, and having more than one car on the policy. These things don’t seem to have much to do with the factors that cause accidents.
So why should teenagers pay higher costs then? And of those teenagers, why, like this quote from MSN Autos says, do boys pay so much more than girls?
‘Hunter noted a family’s auto insurance rate might nearly double when a teenage
girl is added to the policy, but it could triple if a teen boy is added.’
Well, we were asking ourselves just such questions, especially at all the times when we see teenage girls whizzing along, talking on their cell phones, radios blasting and pedestrians leaping for cover as these ‘better drivers’ nearly run them off the road! And not only have we observed that girls can be pretty reckless, we found research to prove it!
We decided to do some research to find out if it was really fair for teenage boys to pay so much more for insurance. Carfax.com has prepared a list of Teen Driving tips. The following research was included in the list.
‘Males are more than twice as likely to have serious crashes as females. But while the crash total for males has been declining over the past 20 years, the total for females has been rising.’.
Initially we wanted to prove that teenagers were no better or worse drivers than adults and also that teen girls were no better drivers than boys, in fact that they may actually be worse drivers.
Starting with driver age, it was our belief that as the age of a driver increased, they become a bigger risk behind the wheel than younger drivers. We made a conclusion that older people are not as agile behind the wheel due to the fact that as you get older you tend to lose some of your important perceptual skills.
When you get older your eyesight starts to go. You lose some night vision, peripheral vision and depth perception. Older people tend to get glaucoma and cataracts. They start to need bifocals or trifocals instead of ordinary glasses or contacts.
Older people have trouble hearing too. This would cause a problem when you need to hear emergency vehicles, horns, or problems with your car.
As you get older, you start to have motor problems also. For example some older people have a hard time looking over their shoulder to check for oncoming traffic. This makes them more venerable to pull out in front of cars. Their response or reaction time gets slower with age, so they might not hit the brake, or swerve as quickly and get into a collision.
Then, we made some calculations. If you consider that the average driver begins his driving ‘career’ at age 16 and continues to drive until age 75-80, that is a span of at least 60 years. We divided that 60 year span into 6 basic age groups of ten years each: ages 16-25, ages 26-35, ages 36-45,ages 46-55, ages 56-65, and ages 66-75. Mathematically, each group should represent 16% of the total number of accidents so to speak, (dividing 100% by the six age groups) if age was not a factor in driving.
We checked some websites on statistics of accidents by age. We found that drivers over 65 tended to be more likely to get in accidents and that proved our point.
But we also found that the US DOT recorded 3,657 teenage drivers) died in car crashes in 2003. That’s 14% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes! And, that is only drivers between the ages of 15 and 20, an age span of only 5 years! Essentially that means that an age category half the size of the other 5 had almost as many accidents as the others!
We also developed a short survey and asked drivers of all ages and both sexes, to fill it out. We wanted to find out about their driving records. We asked about how many accidents people had. We asked if they had been stopped by the police for anything. We also asked how often when they were stopped whether they were given a ticket.
Our survey showed that teens usually had more tickets and accidents than all the other age categories. We found that older drivers tend to be safer drivers than younger drivers.
We decided that with age comes more experience behind the wheel. They know what to look out for and how to avoid accidents. Older drivers are more familiar with the laws of the road. Older drivers are less likely to make careless or stupid mistakes.
We found too that older age didn’t have anything to do with accidents. The people who were over 65 that we surveyed had no more accidents than the younger adults. Our survey showed that over 21, people just basically are better drivers.
Older people were also not stopped or ticket as frequently. We don’t know if it because police officers are quicker to stop a car with teens in it instead of a car with adults. Younger people do tend to be the ones that do things to get peoples’ attention, like playing loud music.
So we were wrong about the age thing. Teenagers pay more for insurance because they have more accidents. We were ready to concede that point. But the issue of male versus female drivers still remained to be proved.
The research we found showed that although girls used to be better drivers, that this is changing. Girls tend to speed and drive recklessly much more than they did 20 years ago. And their accident record is going up also.
Our survey proved us out in this also. The women we surveyed had more accidents on their record than the men. They had been stopped more for moving violations like speeding, running stop signs and not yielding the right-of-way also. And the teenage girls had the worst records of all, for the amount of time they had been driving. Some had even lost their licenses already, even though they had been driving for only a few years.
We began this paper with a hypothesis about driving records and their effect on insurance costs. We used to variables to test. We used the age of the driver and the sex of the driver. We set out to prove that higher insurance rates for teenagers was unfair and higher insurance rates for boys was unfair.
We proved that we were wrong about the age of the drivers. Teenagers really do have worse driving records, based upon research and surveys. We also found that people do not necessarily become worse. drivers as they get older. However, we proved, with research and surveys, that our contention was right about the accident rate of teen female drivers. They are not always better drivers; sometimes they are worse drivers.
What do you think? From your experience, should teens be paying more for insurance?