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Too tired to text and drive

Add nodding off behind the wheel to the list of risky driving factors for the nation's youngest drivers.

By MSN Money Partner Nov 13, 2012 10:25AM

This post comes from Michelle Megna at partner site logoThe nation's youngest motorists -- already notorious for their inexperience and tendency to text behind the wheel -- can now add drowsy driving to their list of high-risk road factors.


Car wrecked on road guardrail © NULL, OJO Images, Getty ImagesSleepy drivers are more likely to be under age 24, according to a new survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.


One in seven drivers under age 24 admitted falling asleep at least once while driving in the past year, compared with one in 10 of all licensed drivers, the survey found.


Motorists age 16 to 24 are also 78% more likely to be drowsy at the time of an accident than drivers age 40 to 59, says the AAA Foundation.


It's not just the youth who are guilty

Despite the prevalence of drowsy driving among the young, these findings should serve as a wake-up call for all motorists. While eight out of 10 people consider sleepy driving a significant safety risk, 30% admitted driving in the past 30 days when they were so tired "they struggled to keep their eyes open," the report says.


Perhaps, then, it's no surprise that one in six fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver, making driving while exhausted one of the leading contributors to traffic wrecks, according to a 2010 AAA Foundation study (.pdf file) of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.

Keeping your rates low when insuring a teen

The news of teens driving while tired comes at a time when they are also the target of nationwide federally backed distracted-driving campaigns designed to stop texting behind the wheel. Fifty-eight percent of high school seniors say they text while driving, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


And, due to their lack of experience, the nation's youngest drivers are already considered a high-risk group by auto insurance companies -- and car insurance premiums reflect it. Your premium hike will depend on your family's particular situation, but adding a teen male to your policy will usually at least double your rates, according to


Here are some tips to help mitigate the high cost of insuring a teen driver:

  • Qualify for a good-student discount. Most insurance companies provide a discount to high school or college students with a B average or better or a GPA of 3.0 or better.
  • Qualify for a distant-student discount. Most companies offer a discount for students who live 100 to 150 miles away from home with no access to a car insured on your policy.
  • Have your teen take more classes. Some companies, including MetLife, give a 5% discount for taking an additional driving class offered by the National Safety Council. At USAA, discounts in some states can be as high as 10% to 15% for taking a state-approved driver-improvement class.
  • Sign a parent-teen driving contract. Some insurance companies will give a discount of up to 5% for these contracts. Typically your teen agrees to follow certain rules, such as not driving at night or not driving with friends in the car.
  • Choose a safe car. If you are buying a car for your teen, choose one that has high safety ratings. Insurers offer lower premiums for vehicles with high safety standards.
  • Assign your teen to the beater. If your son or daughter will be driving a family car, make sure the new driver is assigned to the vehicle that's cheaper to insure.

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