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Oregon Family Magazine

OMG! My Teen is Driving!?!

05/31/2015 15:53 ● By Sandy Kauten
Do you remember harassing your parents to take you to the DMV to take your exam to get your permit? Your first time (legally) behind the wheel of a car? Your first official driving lesson?  The memories take you back, right?  But now it’s your baby asking you for the ride to the DMV.  And you’ll be the one up nights worrying and it’s suddenly a little scary!  But there are several ways to help mitigate the fear (a tad) and get both you and your teen as ready as possible for the latest set of “wheels” they’ll be trying out.

First, though, are the statistics regarding teen drivers that have resulted in higher insurance costs, more stringent laws and additional opportunities to educate teens on the dangers and responsibilities associated with their driving privilege. 

Did you know…

1.  According to a comprehensive study resulting from crash videos of teen drivers in March 2015, it was found that distracted driving accounted for nearly 60% of “moderate to severe teen crashes.”  The original estimate pegged distracted driving as a factor in just 14% of teen accidents. Distracted driving is defined as interacting with other passengers, cell phone use, looking/reaching for items, etc.

2.  According to the CDC, in 2012, of the teens killed in passenger vehicle crashes, 55% were not wearing seat belts.

3.  More than 40% of teen vehicular related deaths occur between 9:00PM and 6:00AM.

Short of bubble wrap and revoking all driving privileges for infinity, there are several things parents can do to provide excited teens with the tools they need to be safe, aware and defensive drivers.


There are 8 Key factors that can contribute to teen accidents/fatalities.  The following Dangerous Eight should be reviewed and discussed and with teens.  They should understand the reality of what these actions can result in before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

  • Distracted Driving
  • Driver Inexperience
  • Driving with Teen Passengers
  • Nighttime Driving
  • Driving While Impaired
  • Driving while Sleepy/Drowsy
  • Not Using Seat belts
  • Driving Recklessly

Safety Tools:

Each state and Washington D.C. has implemented a Graduated Driver’s License Program to help offset driver inexperience, different from the old learner’s permit process.  According to the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances (NCUTLO), a graduated driver’s license is a three-part program designed for new teen drivers.  Prior to the instructional permit a vision and written test must be passed and documented before the fee is paid.  The instructional permit requires teens to learn how to drive with a licensed driver of at least 21 years of age for a minimum of 12 months.  At the end of 12 months the teen must pass a road test, complete a minimum of 30–50 hours (some states require up to 100 hours) of driving with a supervised adult and pass a driver’s education course in order to complete the intermediate phase and apply for the standard license. 

In recent years there have been technological advancements that can help parents monitor their teens to ensure that they are adhering to the rules of the road and practicing safe driving.  Parents can monitor driving speed, hard braking, texting while driving and more.  There are several different models available starting at $79, with a monthly fee ranging from $15 to $40.  For a relatively low cost, parents can install the devices on any car built after 1996 and select the activities they wish to monitor and set their specific limits like speed and geographic boundaries which will alert the parent when limits are exceeded or boundaries are crossed.  There is even an alert for when a device is disconnected and/or reconnected and the geo-map will show exactly where the vehicle was located when this occurred. With a little research a parent can determine the desired features, which will help narrow down the choices for the selection of the appropriate device.   Several insurance companies, like Safeco and Progressive, offer customers devices for installation for a period of six months to evaluate teen drivers for the opportunity to lower premiums.  


Parents aren’t the only ones concerned with the safety of their teens.  Insurance companies are just as concerned about the statistics surrounding teen drivers, which results in sky-high premiums to insure them.  According to Smart Assets, parents can expect their insurance premiums to increase by approximately 18% to 116% if they add their teen driver to their policy, depending on where they live.  Thus, it makes sense for parents and teens to do what they can to keep insurance premiums as low as possible. 

Insurance Reduction Tips:

Visit Consumer Reports for a link on tips for locating the proper insurance policy.     

There are several things teens and parents can do to reduce teen insurance costs: 

  • Car insurance can average $3,000 to $4,000 a year for teens without additional discounts.  If parents are willing to add teens to their policies, it could dramatically reduce rates.  However, when teens are added to existing parent policies, parents often see their premiums increase by up to 90%.  Taking the time to run the numbers first, may be the best idea.  Although, most insurance companies will not raise the actual premium until the teen has his or her license.
  • Formal Driver’s Education classes can reduce insurance rates by up to 10%.
  • Many insurance companies offer good student discounts for those students who are on the dean’s list, honor roll or maintain a B average.  Full-time college students (up to age 25) can also take advantage of this savings opportunity.  Homeschooled students are also eligible for this discount with approved documentation. 
  • Teens and their parents should shop for a vehicle their insurance company approves of.  Sedans will cost less to insure than a flashy sports car or an SUV, but a newer sedan with automatic seat belts, air bags and an anti-theft device will cost less than an older vehicle due to safety discounts.  Also, contrary to rumors, a red car will not increase your insurance costs – it’s just a myth!
  • Vehicles that will not be targeted by thieves and that are inexpensive to repair are winners to insurance providers.     

On the flip side, insurance costs will rise if teens do not respect the rules of the road.  Excessive and/or frequent tickets and accidents will affect insurance premiums.  So doing whatever they can to stay alert and beware of other drivers can be quite beneficial.  If a teen acquires more than three infractions, insurance can be cancelled or not renewed. 

DUIs and DWIs can cause injuries and fatalities to the driver, passengers and others.  Besides the legalities and the high personal price a driver pays, as a teenager, these charges can result in higher rates and/or insurance cancellation.    


There are a number of things that teens can do to prepare themselves to be skilled, responsible, safe drivers.  Most schools offer driver’s education programs where students can receive classroom instruction, driver observation and actual driving experience.  Driver’s education also counts towards the mandatory supervised instruction hours each new driver requires and help them prepare for the written exam and road test.  It is also offered through other venues like community colleges, driver’s training schools and AAA and through online learning in some states, (though not currently accepted in Oregon.)

Being prepared for the road isn’t just about “getting on the road”, but about being confident behind the wheel.  The best way to ensure a teen is confident in their car is to help them learn about the vehicle.  Having your teen take a basic auto repair course, learning to change a flat tire, and recognizing when something is wrong with a vehicle could keep your teen safe.  Learning how to perform oil changes, check tires and fluid levels can also save money.   

Every new driver should be able to take care of these basics:

  • Check the oil
  • Check the battery
  • Check the coolant
  • Check the windshield wiper fluid and blades
  • Check your lights

If your teen does not possess the mechanical gene – when in doubt, AAA makes a great “Congratulations on Getting Your License” gift.

So parents, when your teen comes to you with the request to head to the DMV, you can be armed and ready to supply him or her with the following list:

Car Cost - $12,000 total

  • (2007 Buick sedan – VG condition, 60K miles)

Gasoline Avg. – $515/yr.

  • Roughly 500 miles/mo.

Insurance per year - $3,816/yr.

  • Teen driver, non-graduate, part-time worker, own insurance

Maintenance per year - $740

  • Vehicle Safety Device – approx. $30/mo.
  • Regular Annual Maintenance (According to Bankrate 2014) - $380

License fees – $97.50

  • Written Test - $5
  • Intermediate - $23.50
  • Standard Licensing - $69.00

Vehicle Registration fees (Oregon) – $187 - $232

Title Fees

  • Standard vehicle title: $77

Initial Vehicle Registration Fees

  • Passenger vehicles (gas-powered, electric or hybrid) and Light Trailers:
  • 2-year registration: $86

If you are registering your vehicle in Multnomah County, you will be required to pay an extra $19 for every year you are registering your vehicle.

If a VIN inspection is needed, be prepared to pay the $7 inspection fee.

License Plate Fees

  • Two plates (cars, trucks, etc.): $24

Then ask them if they’re prepared to pay the price for their driving independence.  For tweens, perhaps you should show them the list now so they can get a jump on saving their pennies, get comfortable maintaining that B average and perhaps take a course or two in auto repair. 

Lastly, parents should visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and print out the American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC Safe Driving Agreement, review it with their teens and have them sign it.  Here is the link:

And parents…Happy Trails!  Or perhaps, Vroom, Vroom is more appropriate!

Here’s the link:

Here's MORE information we dug up just for our on-line readers!... Enjoy!!

Driver's Education in Oregon

If you're a teenager applying for your first driver's license, completing Driver's Ed is not required, but it can make it easier to satisfy the licensing requirements of the Oregon Department of Transportation (DOT) Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division (DMV).

A Driver's Ed program will not only help you become a safer, more responsible driver, it will also reduce your required supervised driving hours and help you ace your DMV road test.

On this page you'll find information about driver's education courses in Oregon and your next steps towards obtaining your first driver's license.

 Oregon Driver's Ed Eligibility Requirements

If you are younger than 18 years old, driver's education can count towards part of your supervised driving requirements. You will first need to obtain your learner's permit when you are at least 15 years old.

For more information, please see our Driver Permits in Oregon page.

Once you pass the DMV written test and receive your Oregon learner's permit, you'll have the option of either:

  • Completing an approved Driver's Ed program AND completing 50 hours of supervised driving.


  • Completing 100 hours of supervised driving.

You must satisfy one of the above requirements before you can apply for your Oregon driver's license.

New Oregon Residents

If you are a new Oregon resident under 18 years old and want to transfer your out-of-state driver's license, the Oregon DMV DOES NOT require you to obtain an instruction permit or complete Driver's Ed. Simply turn in your out-of-state license, take any required exams, and pay the licensing fee.

About Your Oregon Driver's Ed Course

Regardless of which Oregon driver's education program you choose, your instructor will cover topics including:

  • Operating a vehicle.
  • Safe and defensive driving techniques.
  • Traffic laws and the rules of the road.
  • Sharing the road with other motorists.

Classroom and Behind-the-Wheel Hours

Your course will include both classroom instruction and in-car training. It will last at least 35 days and involve a minimum of:

  • 30 hours of classroom lessons.
  • In-car training, which includes:
  • 6 hours of behind-the-wheel practice.
  • 6 hours of observation.
  • 5 hours of practice with a parent or legal guardian.

You'll receive a completion certificate when you finish your course. Some programs present you with a hard-plastic completion certificate, which can be used to waive your DMV road test. Contact your course provider for details.

Types of Oregon Driver's Education

Oregon Driver's Ed programs are provided by DOT-approved driver training schools. At this time, the Oregon DMV DOES NOT ACCEPT online driver's education courses.

Oregon's driver's education website provides a complete list of Driver’s Ed programs in your area.

After you shop around and choose a course, contact your Driver's Ed provider for information about costs and scheduling.

After Driver's Ed – What's Next?

After completing driver's education, you can apply for your provisional Oregon driver's license once you:

  • Turn 16 years old.
  • Hold your learner's permit for at least 6 months.
  • Complete the remainder of your supervised driving hours.
  • Pass your OR DMV road test or present your hard-plastic Driver's Ed completion card to waive the test.

For more information, please see our Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in Oregon page.