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Kevin P. Foley, president at PFT&K Insurance Brokers in Milltown, N.J., can recall every single accident involving one of his clients that resulted in a fatality (four total). He takes the mistakes, negligence and misfortune of others to fuel conversations about the dangers of the road with his daughter. The teen is anxiously anticipating taking the test for her learner's permit in July 2013.
Like many parents, Foley is anxious too, but for other reasons.
As an auto insurance agent, Foley has heard many horror stories, including stories that don't hit the media. He brings them home, and doesn't sugar coat the tragedies.
"I tell her so she knows that accidents are real, but teenagers have a hard time grasping anyone's mortality let alone their own," he says. "She says that she gets it, but I'm not so sure."
He tells his daughter that it's not only her actions she needs to watch, but also those of others. He recalls recently pointing out a driver who made a right turn from the far left lane of the road where they were driving. The negligent driver did not cause an accident, but very easily could have.
His advice to parents with teens is to have these important conversations. Point out the bad driving judgments made by others. Share stories about both the believable and unbelievable ways accidents can happen.
Teens need to know that if they are in an accident and have to get out of the vehicle to exchange insurance information, it's scarier than they can imagine. And, that it's the lucky ones who are able to get out of the vehicle to do this.
Waiting to drive
Safety first, money second.
Eric Kingdon, an account executive at Trustco Inc. Insurance Services in Salt Lake City, says, "I am the son of an insurance agent and my father did not allow me to get my driver's license when I turned 16 because I did not have the 3.0 GPA needed to qualify for the good student discount," he says. Kingdon had to painfully wait months until he received his next report card, which showed a 3.0.