INSURANCE CORNER: Teens learn most driving skills from way parents, grandparents drive

I thought I would share some observations from my ride to work last week. The route I take puts me at the corner of Tucker and Forsyth roads typically at about 8 a.m. As on most days, I was stopped on Tucker Road at the light, waiting to make a left turn onto Forsyth Road to go to the office.

First, there is a sign pertinent to the right hand lane on Tucker Road that says you cannot turn right onto Forsyth Road on a red light. Apparently it does not apply to many drivers. About 50 percent of the vehicles approaching the intersection ignored the sign and used a rolling stop to make a right hand turn. I guess they also did not see the cross there from a previous accident where a young lady lost her life. Does waiting one minute really make a difference?

As I was waiting to make the left turn, I also watched the cars coming past me from Forsyth Road and from across the railroad tracks. While there were some work trucks, the majority of vehicles appeared to be parents taking their kids to school. Of these cars, in about half of them the parent was talking on the phone as they were driving their kids to school. We all know texting while driving is illegal in Georgia and talking on the phone is not. But in most of these cars, the child being transported appeared to be a teen or preteen.

Absent driver’s training programs in the schools, most kids now learn how to drive from their parents, siblings or peers. If it is all right for the parent to talk and drive it must be OK for them as they learn.

Distracted driving is not only texting but anything taking your focus of attention from driving safely and in accordance with the rules of the road.

But even if you are obeying the rules of the road, you have to be prepared for others who do not. You have to drive defensively and sometimes anticipate rash actions by other drivers. If you are distracted by a phone conversation, you may not be fully aware of other drivers or pedestrians around you.

Parents with teens and preteens need to be aware their kids are watching them drive. What are they learning from their parents or grandparents?

Why does insurance cost so much for a 16-year-old driver? It’s because their accident frequency and severity is higher than experienced drivers. They take more risks on the road. Let’s not contribute to that.

Dave Pushman is an independent insurance agent with Tidwell and Hilburn Insurance. He can be reached at