It’s a wonderful time in a young person’s life: graduation, end of the school year, summer break, being on the verge of adulthood with your whole life ahead of you…yet for too many, this promise is cut short by a tragedy that could easily have been avoided. Parents and their children need to be aware of common-sense safe driving tips for teens as they get behind the wheel in the coming weeks.
A Car is Not a “Partymobile”
States are cracking down on the number of passengers that are allowed to ride in a vehicle when a teenager is behind the wheel. Under the “graduated driver’s license” laws that many states are now adopting, teen drivers are often not allowed to carry passengers at all unless there is an adult riding along.
The reason: teens in a group tend to be rowdy. This is in their nature, and under normal conditions, there’s nothing wrong with it. However, the operator of a two-ton piece of equipment hurtling along at speeds between 35 and 60 miles per hour needs to be able to focus on the road. Loud, raucous conversation and movement in the vehicle is not only distracting to the driver (who understandably wants to join in the fun), it can also compromise vehicle stability, making the car more difficult to control.
In any event, if you, as a teenage driver, are carrying a car full of your rowdy friends, you’re not only putting yourself and others at risk; if you are pulled over by an officer of the law, you may wind up losing your driving privileges altogether.
This, by the way also includes loud music and eating or drinking beverages while driving; both of these can take your attention away from the road.
NO Cell Phones or Texting!
This is another dangerous distraction that take away from the job of driving. Most states now have laws against cell phone use while the vehicle is in motion. The fact is that none of us are so important that we need to be taking or making phone calls when driving; whatever the issue is, it can wait until you have had a chance to pull over and bring the vehicle to a complete stop.
To quote NPR’s “Tappet Brothers,” Bob and Ray Magliozzi: “hang up and drive [and vice-versa].”
In recent years, texting, using Facebook, Tweeting, and other forms of social media have caused way too many accidents on our roadways. When you are behind the wheel, you need to realize that your safety is the most important thing, and that text or tweet you are about to send out can wait until you get home!
Alcohol is NOT an Option
Too many high-speed fatalities on America’s highways are attributable to alcohol. It’s a serious issue with adults, but if you, as an underage teen, are caught with any alcohol in your system whatsoever – even if you are not legally intoxicated – it will go much worse for you. Not only will you face DUI charges, you will be charged as a minor in possession of alcohol and you can kiss your driver’s license goodbye until you reach the age of majority.
When you think about it, there are plenty of alternatives to driving drunk. When you think of the consequences, it’s really not worth it!
Speeding is one of the most common contributors in fatal teen car accidents. Every mile per hour you drive over the speed limit, the more likely you are to get involved in a serious collision.
Obey all posted speed limits. Furthermore, don’t feel pressured to keep up with traffic. On some roads, it can seem like every other driver is speeding. Many of these drivers have more experience than you. The speed limits are there to keep you safe.
Take a Defensive Driving Course
Many teen drivers take a driver’s education course before getting their license. A defensive driving course is a great way to learn how to stay safe on the road. You might be the best driver in the world, but that doesn’t matter if you encounter a bad motorist on the road at the wrong time. Taking certain precautions can help you avoid a collision. Consider taking a defensive driving course to learn how to stay safe. Plus, you get an insurance discount!
Drive a Safer Vehicle
Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to give a teenager a sportscar for their first vehicle. It’s also a bad idea to give a teenager an older vehicle with minimal safety features. Ideally, teen drivers will drive the safest vehicles on the road, like vehicles with anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, airbags, and high crash safety ratings. These cars also tend to be safer to insure, so you can save even more money on the notoriously costly car insurance rates for teenage drivers.
Maintain a Safe Following Distance
One of the easiest mistakes to make as a new driver is to not leave enough room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Many teen drivers just don’t have the experience necessary to judge safe distances. The car in front of you can slam on their brakes at any time. It’s imperative that you leave enough room to accommodate any possible movements from the vehicle in front of you.
Turn On Your Headlights All the Time
Many countries – particularly in darker, northern climates – require daytime running lights on all vehicles. These lights ensure your vehicle’s headlights and taillights are always on. In the United States, daytime running lights are not required, and that means your taillights and headlights are totally dark during the day. This might be fine on a sunny and clear day, but it quickly becomes an issue in the early morning, at night, or during periods of bad weather. You’re less likely to get involved in a crash if someone can see your vehicle. As a teen driver, every extra bit of precaution can help. Turn on your headlights when driving – even if it’s not dark out.
Statistically speaking, teenagers are the highest risk drivers on the road. They tend to have less driving experience and more distractions than older drivers. Don’t let yourself become a statistic: by following the safe driving tips for teens listed above, you can stay safe on the road at all times.