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Teen driving expenses taking a back seat to the economy

Teen drivers are finding their automotive allowance cut back as 60 percent of American parents whose teens currently hold a license plus 46 percent of ALL parents say the economy has forced them to cut back on either saving for or spending on their kid's driving, including the cost of a vehicle and other related expenses, according to a survey by Allstate.
Posted: September 21, 2011 - 4:37PM
Author: Don Bain

Of course, income levels are a factor as shown by the fact 72 percent of parents whose household income is less than $30,000 per year are saving or spending less on their teen’s driving, but only 32 percent of those making more than $75,000 say the same.

However, parents who already have a licensed teen, 73 percent say they have their own car. In another eight percent of families the kids have to share a car among them. This rate of teenage car ownership is higher than what these parents experienced themselves since only 48 percent had their own car or shared one. Further, among parents whose children don’t have a license only 48 percent expect their kids to have their own car.

Though most parents expect teens to pay their fair share of car expenses, they become willing to pay more as the kids begin to drive. By the time a kid turns 16 a full 46 percent of parent profess believing in fully covering all expenses for their children to drive. While the kids are still under 14, a mere 10 percent will admit to planning to buy a car for their teen.

Parents who paid for their own cars as teens are more likely to believe in higher contributions from their own kids. When asked about planned expenditures 57 percent say they would spend $5,000 or less, and 41 percent would spend more than $5,000.

Parents are most likely to take on the cost of registration, insurance and maintenance, with 51, 45 and 44 percent respectively, saying they would pay all or most of these.

Parents are least likely to pay for fuel and damages caused by teen behavior as only 17 percent plan to pay any of such expenses.

It is not at all surprising that when it comes to a car for their kids almost all parents place safety first. So if your dad buys you a new Smartfortwo on your 16th birthday, chances are you have life insurance for which he is the beneficiary. Safety is the top priority for 76 percent, followed by reliability at 18 percent, while affordability garners five percent and fuel efficiency only one percent. Apparently, what the car looks like has no bearing at all on the car they’d pick for their kids as not one parent listed appearance as a top priority.

Most teens drive cars nearly 10 years old, as those parents whose kids have cars, say they drive a used car averaging 9.3 years old. That’s very close to the age of the cars the parents first recall driving.

One third of parents do not allow their kids to drive their personal cars. Even parents who had a good (probably meaning newer) car when they started driving would not let their kids drive an equivalent car today.

Parents believe the reasons teenagers should be allowed to drive are getting to school (89 percent) and work (97 percent). Many also want to get out of the role of chauffer and want their kids to help out with errands. They are however, not enthusiastic about allowing their kids to drive to meet up with friends.

Just over half accept the lack of other forms of transportation as a viable reason for kids to drive. The others apparently would rather their kids stayed closer to home anyway.

For parents whose kids are licensed and not driving we have just one simple question? How good are the kids they’re riding with at driving?