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Graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws save lives. However, many parents aren’t making sure their children are following those regulations. In fact, some parents are ignoring the laws.

A new Insurance.com survey of 1,000 parents of teen drivers found that nearly one-third of parents say they don’t always enforce GDL laws. That's a drop of nine percentage points compared to the 2018 survey that asked the same question.

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Traffic safety experts point to GDL laws as the main reason teen driver fatalities have dropped over the past two decades. States forbid young drivers full driving freedom. Instead, they may limit the hours they can drive and who drives with them. Nearly all states also restrict young drivers from using cellphones and texting.

Many parents don’t completely follow GDL laws

The restrictions only work if they’re followed, though. Most parents ignore at least some GDL rules, according to the Insurance.com survey.

The biggest issue for parents is that they don’t know the laws. Forty-five percent of survey respondents said they were unaware of the laws affecting teen drivers in their state.

Here are the responses to the question:

  • I am not aware of the GDL laws. -- 45%
  • I don’t think the GDL laws are fair -- 18%
  • I pick and choose the laws that I think my child should follow -- 18%
  • I try, but it’s too difficult because my teen doesn’t always listen to me -- 14%
  • My teen’s friends always need transportation and it’s hard to say no -- 12%
  • I don’t think they’re necessary -- 9%

The GDL laws not being enforced by parents the most are time restrictions, such as limiting overnight driving, cell phone bans and passenger restrictions.

Parents devoting time to driver education

Parents are doing a better job when it comes to training their teens to drive. We found that 44% of parents said they devoted more than 20 hours in teaching their teen to drive.

Only 8% said they spent less than five hours. Another 16% said they also spent than less than five hours teaching their children, but they were enrolled in driver education classes.

Despite that training, parents are still worried about their teen’s driving habits. We found that parents are most concerned about their teen’s speeding, parallel parking, texting while driving and distracted driving.

Risky drivers mean expensive insurance

The cost of adding a teenager to your insurance policy costs a lot. Specifics depend on many factors, including your location, availability of discounts for teen drivers, and your teen’s driving ability.

The good news is that the insurance costs will decrease over the years if the teen doesn’t get into accidents or get tickets. However, if they rack up crashes and moving violations, you’ll pay even more.

Here are the average auto insurance rates for each teenage level:

  • 16-year-old - $3,989
  • 17-year-old - $3,522
  • 18-year-old - $3,148
  • 19-year-old - $2,178
  • 20-year-old - $1,945

Discounts for teen drivers

Teen drivers will increase your auto insurance rates. There are ways to let your teen help you by collecting discounts.

Here are three common teen driver discounts

  • Good student discount. Students will good grades often get auto insurance discounts. Most insurers demand a "B" average (3.0 grade point average) or higher. Our research shows you get an average of 7% for the discount. That's $361 on average.
  • Defensive driving discount. Going beyond the minimum state-mandated drivers' education and training can save you money. In some states, discounts can run from 10% to 15% for taking a state-approved driver improvement class.
  • Student "away" discount. Most car insurers provide a student "away" discount for students who are away at college or living away from home during high school. The average student away at school discount is more than 14%, which is a savings of $404.

Teen drivers are considered riskier. But with the right amount of training and parents leading by example, teen drivers can learn how best to operate a motor vehicle. The safer the driver, the less you'll pay in auto insurance.

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