Teen drivers are four times as likely as older drivers to be involved in a vehicle collision. Add cell phones and texting to the mix and some report the percentage is even higher. Despite these statistics a new study by the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia shows that fewer teenagers than ever before are completing a driver education course before getting behind the wheel.

Some states require teens to attend a driver education program before getting their license and some do not. In New York, teenagers who successfully complete Traffic School may receive up to a 10% discount on their automobile insurance, making it an attractive offer for their parents who usually foot the bill for car insurance.

There are other benefits to making your teen attend traffic school beside lower insurance rates. Helping them to be safe, defensive drivers is probably the most important because it might make a big difference when they are on the road.

There is no guarantee a driver education program will result in fewer crashes for teens but it certainly is not going to hurt. In states with a graduated licensing program for teens the numbers of teens involved in crashes has decline, although not significantly. This probably has more to do with the fact they are teenagers than it has to do with the effectiveness of driver education in general.

Teenagers are risk takers. They seem fearless in the face of danger because they are still under the mistaken impression that they are indestructible. This, and the goading of friends, distractions and other teen-related experiences often leads them to make poor decisions–decisions they likely wouldn’t make if they were older had more worldly experience.

If you have a teenager in your house anxiously awaiting their turn behind the wheel, do yourself and them a favor and insist on a traffic school first. You won’t just save money on your insurance, you might also save their life.

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