Is your teen excited to get behind the wheel or feeling anxious about operating a vehicle that weighs 4,000 pounds? Despite the mindset of your young driver, committing these tips to memory will lead to more careful, confident navigation and make the roads safer for all drivers and passengers.
Regularly Refresh Your Driving Theory
There’s so much to learn about driving when you’re studying for the driving theory test and getting your licence, so it’s easy to become overwhelmed. And even if you’ve been driving for a while, you’ll encounter new rules you may not be familiar with or those that have changed. A driving refresher course will keep you up-to-date, and when you’re fully informed about road rules, you learn to be a more confident and safe driver.
Maintain a Proper Following Distance to Other Vehicles
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), teens are more likely than older drivers to leave less distance between their car and the car in front of them. This kind of driving behavior – often called tailgating – can greatly increase the chance of an accident and contributes to more than one-third of all crashes. When tailgating:
- It’s difficult to see beyond the vehicle in front of you, which impairs your ability to be aware of all surrounding road conditions
- You can’t react as quickly if the car ahead of you stops suddenly, so you’re more likely to rear-end the vehicle
- If you rear-end the car in front of you, it may cause a chain-reaction and multiple car crashes
- You may aggravate the driver in front of you, which could either lead to distraction on that driver’s part or a road-rage situation
Avoid “Critical Errors” While Driving
Critical errors account for 75% of severe teen driver accidents, and more than half of those crashes are due to three common errors:
- Driving too fast for road conditions
- Not scanning your surroundings for potential hazards
- Becoming distracted by something either inside or outside of the car
Your focus must always remain on operating your vehicle. Preparing yourself to drive safely in road conditions that could cause you to lose control.
Don’t Use Your Mobile Phone While Driving
Most teen drivers (94%, according to a AAA poll) understand the dangers of texting while driving. Unfortunately, 35% do it anyway. Here are some statistics on teen mobile phone use while driving:
- Teens are four times as likely than adults to cause a car crash or be at risk for one (a near-crash) when either talking on a mobile phone or texting.
- Nearly a quarter of teen drivers who were involved in a fatal car crash were distracted by their mobile phones.
The time it takes to answer a text is equivalent to traveling the entire length of a football field at 55 mph. That’s far too long to have your eyes off the road!
Drive at a Speed Safe for Conditions
Remember that the number posted on the sign is the maximum speed you’re permitted to drive. Some motorists calculate how fast they can drive before getting pulled over for speeding. But viewing driving speed that way doesn’t take into account the kinds of road conditions that require you to slow down – including pedestrian crossings, bad weather conditions or construction. Laws are enacted to keep people safe, not to challenge them to see how much they can get away with.
Always Signal Before Changing Lanes or Turning
Research from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) shows that drivers who fail to signal cause two million car accidents each year. The study also reported that a quarter of drivers don’t signal before they turn, while nearly half do not signal before they switch lanes.
In order to protect yourself, your passengers, and others on the road, it’s crucial to warn other drivers about upcoming actions you plan to take so that they can respond accordingly.
Check Your Mirrors Often
Your car’s mirrors offer valuable information about what’s happening behind you and on either side of your vehicle. Whether you’re pulling away from the curb from a parked position or changing lanes on the highway, unless you know the position of adjacent cars, there’s a high likelihood you could cause an accident. Make sure you know how to use your mirrors correctly and how to adjust them properly. As a general rule, you should check your mirrors every 3-5 seconds before and after you change lanes.
Look Far Ahead of Your Vehicle
While driving, reaction time is everything. Give yourself enough time to react to a slow-down, and avoid sudden stops by looking ahead at upcoming conditions. How far ahead should you scan? Aim for one-quarter mile ahead while on the highway and approximately two blocks when you’re in a city or suburban environment.
Prepared Driving is Safe Driving
Driving comes with a great deal of freedom, but an equal amount of responsibility. Preparing your teen for the risks of the road will ensure they become a better, safer driver.
Author: Tim Waldenback
Tim Waldenback is the co-founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online drivers education to help teens get their license. Tim founded Zutobi to make world-class driver’s education fun, affordable, and easily accessible for all.