Teen drivers have always been viewed as one of the more dangerous groups to get behind the wheel.
It’s no secret, as well, that teen auto insurance premiums are more expensive in comparison to other age groups.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a study on teen drivers. According to its website, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for U.S. teens in 2017. Those ages 15 to 19 represented 6.5% of the driving population but were involved in 8% of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries nationally.
In the state of Missouri, teen driving fatality rates ranked sixth for fatalities in crashes related to young drivers with 146 deaths in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
So do the higher teen driving-related crash numbers mean higher auto insurance rates for young drivers?
“Typically when you look at risk, you look at age, driving record and credit score,” Jay MacLellan, director of media relations and corporate training with Shelter Insurance, said. “There are a lot of factors. It is hard to say what the rates would be for a 16-, 17- or 18-year-old. They are generally higher than someone older than them.”
Driving record is important, but it won’t change the rates for a whole age range of teens if the crashes involve just a small portion of the group. In areas around Missouri, the rates differ by several factors, one of which is population.
“What we do is that we rate by county generally,” MacLellan said. “(The rates) fluctuate in general, but population is one big aspect.”
Looking at the auto rates within the city of St. Joseph, there is not an average teen driver rate that can be pinpointed, as a lot of statistics go into those premiums. But the city has cheaper rates compared to those in Kansas City or St. Louis.
“I quote primarily in St. Joseph. I do have some in Kansas City, and rates are more expensive in a metropolitan area,” Stephen Lorenz, owner and operator of an American Family Insurance agency. “From a comprehensive side, theft and vandalism and more people equals more accidents as well.”
Even though fatality stats seem to indicate Missouri may have had some of the more dangerous teen drivers a couple of years ago, MacLellan thinks the general rates for Missouri drivers are lower than in neighboring states.
“Missouri relative to our surrounding states — Kansas, Illinois, Iowa and Arkansas — the rates are usually on the lower end. Some of those states are higher. The Missouri rates are more normal,” MacLellan said.