Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Magazine for Young Drivers Stresses Safety

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Magazine for Young Drivers Stresses Safety

Article excerpt

TO American teenagers, a driver's license represents a long-awaited passport to freedom, a symbol of maturity. Yet because factors such as speed, alcohol, and inexperience make young drivers a greater risk on the road, a family's initial celebration of this rite of passage may quickly be tempered by the harsh economic reality of steep increases in auto insurance premiums.

"Parents almost get sticker shock when they add a young driver to their policy for the first time," says John Cook, a senior vice president at United Services Automobile Association (USAA) in San Antonio, Texas.

As one way of encouraging teens to be responsible behind the wheel, USAA has just published the first issue of Under 25, a 16-page magazine designed to educate young adults about cars and driving. The first issue went out last month to all 16- to 22-year-old dependents of USAA insurers.

"We want to talk to them about speeding, but not in a patronizing way," Mr. Cook says, offering one example of the kind of safety-related topics the magazine will cover. "They just have this feeling they're invincible. We have to try to convince them - but not by using hackneyed phrases like `Speed kills' - that 5 or 10 miles an hour can make a huge difference in terms of the physics of a crash."

The first issue - there will be two in 1990, three next year, then four in 1992 - contains articles on what to do if a policeman pulls a driver over, how to establish a good credit rating, and the dangers of marijuana.

Early response has been positive, according to Lisa Severson, an editorial assistant. Already, 5,000 recipients have returned response cards, with many saying they wish the magazine were bigger.

The magazine comes at a time when issues affecting young drivers are heating up in several states. In Indiana, a national anti-discrimination group, the National Clearinghouse for Ending Sex Discrimination in Insurance, is calling for the state legislature to ban sex discrimination in auto insurance rates. There, as in many states, insurance companies use both gender and marital status as factors in setting auto insurance rates for drivers under the age of 25.

Stephen Williams, president of the Insurance Institute of Indiana, explains the industry's method of setting rates. …

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