Sending children to college can cause parents a lot of stress, and having them take a vehicle can add to it significantly. According to TeenDriverSource.com, young drivers are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents than more experienced ones, car-related safety issues top the list of concerns.
“It’s tough when kids go away to school with a car,” said Dean Fisher, Chief Operating Officer of CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts, North America’s largest network of collision repair facilities. “Parents worry about accidents, how much money the car will cost at school and if the freedom to drive will create distractions for the student.”
Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the dangers and financial considerations. Here are 10 tips that can help parents sleep better once the new semester starts.
1. Decide whether a car is needed at all. Some colleges do not give underclassmen who live on campus parking permits. Depending on the college, there are likely several reasonable options available for students such as public transportation, carpooling and hourly car rental program like Zipcar.
2. Decide which car to buy. Every freshman would like to show up for class on the first day in a convertible or sports car, but the smarter option is something more mundane. There are several new and used cars that receive top ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, get good gas mileage on the highway and have enough room to haul laundry home every other weekend.
3. Shop for the best financing. Car manufacturers know that buyer loyalty begins with a person’s first set of wheels, and they work with financial institutions to ease college students into special deals with low interest rates and affordable monthly payments.
4. Ban distracted driving. It’s easy for young drivers to be distracted by cell phones, friends and eating in the car. Teach them to put down the phone in the car and pledge to It Can Wait for on–the-road safety.
5. Get friendly with your insurance agent. For most companies, maintaining a grade level of 3.0 or higher can reduce insurance premiums. So will driving training programs. Shop around to get the best deal.
6. Sign up for driving school. Today, there are hundreds of schools open to all ages and skill levels that teach drivers how their cars work in all road conditions. Students who learn how to avoid a skid in a wet parking lot under supervision are less likely to lose control of a car in the rain.
7. Talk about safety off the street. Show students how to spot the safest areas to park a car at the mall or other busy places, making the car less of a target for break-ins. Removing any portable electronics and valuables from the car also deters thieves. Never leave a student ID card visible, especially if it has a photo of the student.
8. Teach them preventative maintenance. Equipping students with a preventative maintenance schedule can help prevent breakdowns and accidents while at school. Some car care facilities like Meineke can even send digital reminders to help ensure important service takes place.
9. Teach young drivers how to handle an accident. Preparing students for the possibility can prevent making a bad situation worse. Create a collision kit for your student’s car that includes copies of vehicle registration and insurance information, an accident recording app on their phone, flares, bottled water and a first-aid kit. Share tips on what to do if an accident happens, available here.
10. Find a good repair resource before trouble strikes. Find a shop you can trust with your child’s car in advance. A nationally branded network like CARSTAR can offer a trusted, reliable repair option, miles away from home. They offer high-quality, reliable repair service in 30 states and 10 Canadian provinces. In your child’s accident kit, include the 1-800-CARSTAR number. CARSTAR will send a tow vehicle, contact the owner’s insurance company, arrange for a rental car and make repairs.
“Other than purchasing a home and paying for college, buying a car is the biggest financial commitment most Americans will make,” said Fisher. “By teaching your child good driving and maintenance habits on his or her first car, you are making them proud of that vehicle.”
For more tips on driving and collision repair, visit www.carstar.com. CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts offers high-quality, reliable repair service in 30 states and 10 Canadian provinces. Just call 1-800-CARSTAR when you need a vehicle repair, and they will send a tow truck, contact your insurance company, arrange for a rental car and repair your car. For information and store locations, visit here.