Program Challenges Teen Drivers

JONESBORO -- Every year, 6,000 teenagers die in car crashes.  That's why it's so difficult for parents to turn over the keys to their son or daughter at age 16.  Now insurance companies are stepping forward with programs to get new drivers "to really think" about their time spent on the road.

Night-time driving in traffic is just one of many challenges 16-year-old Kaitlyn Mink faces as a new driver.  No parent is immune from worrying about their child driving.   Triple FM's Christie Matthews wants her daughter to be prepared for whatever will happen on the road and that led her to the Steer Clear program.

"You look at the book and she actually sets up goals for that particular trip,"  said Christie, Kaitlyn's mother. "It may be slowing down before an intersection or earlier. It may be working on turn signals or dealing with aggressive drivers."

Kaitlyn must complete information on 20 different driving trips before she can get insurance to drive on her own.  Right now a licensed driver, either Mom or Dad, is always with her in the car.

"I'm excited, but I'm also scared because its not so much my driving that I'm scared of," said Kaitlyn, a Steer Clear participant.  "But I see people everyday that people are passing, barely making it and cutting people off.  That's just what I'm scared of is other people's driving."

And reality about the dangers of driving appears in a video that accompanies the workbook.

"It was very eye-opening for her and me as a parent because it talked about aggressive drivers," said Christie.  "You know teens have the highest risk of having an accident because of speeding.

That, along with riding unbuckled, having a lot of passengers in the car, eating, listening to loud music and text messaging are all situations that can prove deadly.  Kaitlyn admits the temptation to just look at a text is tough.

"You feel that vibration in your pocket and you're like oh, I've got to check it," said Kaitlyn. "And you're like well, I'm driving, so I can't."

"My daughter is a huge texter, but she has also been very, very vocal about not texting and driving," said  Christie.  "I'm real proud of her on that."

Participating in the Steer Clear program lowers insurance rates and that was what brought Christie to contact her agent.  Now she realizes it's all about peace of mind.   This program offered by State Farm is one of several being made available by insurance companies.  Check with your agent to see what's available.   For more information on the Steer Clear program, you can go to

"I'm gonna worry every time she gets behind the wheel," said Christie.  "Because you know you go from buckling them into a car seat to buckling them into a car and sending them on their way. So, as a parent, it's tough.