Top Teen Driving Tips

I always get a little apprehensive when teens get behind the wheel. Both the mentality and lack of experience in teen drivers increases their likelihood of being involved in an accident. Car accidents are the biggest life taker for teens and parents can sometimes feel at a loss to know how to protect their child while giving them their space to learn. In the case of teen drivers, education goes a long way.
Teen car accidents occur so frequently because of a few different factors. The most common problem among teenagers is inexperience. Through experience we become adapted to the roads, driving in various conditions and become familiar with our cars. Even experienced drivers take a little bit to adjust to a new car- for teens this adjusting period takes a little longer. Another curveball thrown at parents teaching their teens to drive is the invincibility mentality. Teens view themselves as indestructible and almost immortal–they realize the inherent dangers, but rationalize that it will never happen to them. Reckless behavior often accompanies this invincibility mentality- speeding, racing and other types of reckless driving ensue. These may appear to be juvenile habits that age will cure- but there are steps you can take as a parent to curtail this reckless behavior.
1. Safety 101
o Drivers Education: Drivers education courses are required by law in Washington State, but not all courses are created equal. School drivers education programs are extremely convenient, but they only teach the basics. Instead, enroll your teen in a defensive driving school that goes beyond starting the ignition and turning no the windshield wipers. Defensive driving courses teach students hand on how to deal with and avoid the sticky situations the road will throw at them such as adverse weather conditions and other unsafe drivers on the road. Students graduating from these courses have significantly fewer accident incidents than those who took regular courses.
o Buckle Up: Seat belts are required throughout the United States and save thousands of lives every single year. In spite of the legal requirement a lot of teens get in the car without a proper restraint. 60% of the teenagers killed in auto accidents were not wearing a seat belt. Teaching your children to wear seat belts from an early age is essential to the use of a seat belt later on. Engraining this into your child’s head from an early age will make it second nature to them when they take to the road alone.
o What to Drive?!: Though I understand the desire for parents to buy their teen a brand new SUV or sports car with the newest and greatest safety features this is not a good idea. Sure you may figure your child will drive safer and take better care of a nice car–the reverse actually happens. You give a teen speed and they will want to test it and SUV’s are prone to flipping making them a terrible choice as a first car. Instead, pick a used vehicle with a good safety record and a reliable history. Most importantly- make sure the vehicle has been maintained.
o Maintenance, Maintenance, Maintenance!: Proper fluid changes, tune ups and tire rotation are essential to ensuring your teens safety. Teens cannot tell when something is wrong with their car- noticing odd sounds, smells and feelings come with experience so keeping everything in good hape is important.
2. Distracted Driving- Distracted driving continues to plague the roads and teenagers are particularly sources of commercial law prone to being distracted behind the wheel. Here are some tips to limit your child’s distractions.
o No Cell Phones: Maintain a no cell phone policy in the car for all drivers. Parents have been found in recent studies to be more guilty than teens of texting and driving. Teens will take hypocrisy as an excuse to engage in texting/talking themselves so it is important that everyone as a family follows this rule.
o Passenger Limit: Teens often have accidents when they are simply distracted by other teen passengers which is why most states have laws restricting the number of passengers inexperienced drivers can carry. In addition to this being a legal rule, make it a house rule as well.
3. Eyes on top civil rights attorneys the Road
o Observing the environment- help point out road hazards whenever you drive with your teen things such as…
A� The traffic ahead- Limiting your vision to the car in front of you limits what you can prepare for. If you watch the cars 3 or 4 lengths ahead you are able to more easily adjust to changes in pace etc.
A� Critters on shoulder- watching for deer, elk or cattle is important in rural areas. If it is an area known to have a lot larger animals prone to ending up as road kill point it out to the young driver. Paying close attention to the shoulder of the road at night becomes even more important as animals are even more likely to jump out in the roadway. Also teach your teen the proper way to deal with smaller animals–driving in a straight line fares best for both the driver and the critter.
o Blind Spots: Make sure your teen is always checking blind spots before changing lanes- this should be something you, as a parent, check for every time you ride with them.
o Using the Mirrors: Many adults fail to use their mirrors as often as they should to monitor traffic- make sure your teen uses their mirrors regularly- teach them how to adjust them properly and all the different things to use them for.
4. Control the Situation
o Hands on the Wheel: Hands should always be at 10:00 and 2:00- this allows for maximum control of the vehicle and helps prevent the risk of breaking wrist bones in an accident.
o Become acquainted with the car: Becoming familiar with how the car reacts is extremely important to avoiding collisions. You must know how well your breaks react and how your accelerator functions so you may keep adequate distance for your car and avoid pulling out in front of someone moving too quickly.
o Go the Speed Limit: talk about the consequences of speeding with your teen- outline what consequences will await them at home if they do get a speeding ticket.
o Watch the Weather: ride with your child in bad weather conditions often before they get their license. Conditions such as rain, and snow require different stopping distances and driving behavior- point these out to your teen as they drive.
5. Nighttime Driving
o The night has different hazards than the daytime due to decreased visibility. There are also more dangerous drivers flooding the roads at night- in fact, 10% of drivers are drunk between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. And animals haunt the road ways with the liability of jumping into front of a car at any moment. Practice and experience are the only things that will make increase your teens safety at night. Give your child the opportunity to drive at night frequently with you in the car pointing out the hazards. When your student first receives their license set a curfew to ensure they will be home before the roads get too hectic until they can adjust and be ready for nighttime driving.
6. Preparation
o Equip your teen for common road hazards and emergencies. An emergency kit and accident kit are important to not only help out in an incident but increase your child’s confidence and safety.

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