Safety Tips for Your Teen Driver
The day is here, the moment you’ve been waiting for 16 years, you are a licensed driver! This milestone is one of the most exciting times in a teen’s life but with that comes great responsibility. Follow these important driving tips to keep you, your passengers, and others on the road safe.
Don’t Drink and Drive – It is common sense that alcohol and driving don’t mix. One-third of automobile accident fatalities are the result of this deadly combination. 27 people are killed every day in alcohol related accidents per Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), that’s more than one death every hour! The legal drinking age in Maryland is 21 so you shouldn’t be drinking anyway but never make the mistake of getting behind the wheel while impaired or getting in the car with a driver that has been drinking, period. It’s simpler than ever to make a smart decision and get home safely – have a designated driver, use a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft, call a friend or taxi, or use public transportation. Keep in mind that the astonishing death rate (by far the most important aspect) isn’t the only costly factor, the average cost of a first offense DUI is over $10,000 and that doesn’t factor in any time and money lost due to not having a license.
Distracted Driving – Distracted driving has quickly become as prevalent as drinking and driving. As technology and smartphones are an important part of everyday life, using a mobile device while driving has quickly taken over the number one spot beating other common distractions of the past like eating, music, shaving, and reading. With many states banning handheld devices and driving, it is unfortunately still a common practice we see on the roads. We know the temptation is great so put your phone away while in the driver’s seat, a text or post isn’t worth a life. Many car manufacturers offer hands free voice activated features that allow you to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Other kids in the car can also be a distraction for teen drivers. Matter of fact, many states have passenger restrictions for new teenage drivers. Limit your passengers until you are fully confident with your driving experience and once you start allowing passengers, keep them in check so they are not a distraction for you.
Always Buckle Up – One of the simplest things you can do is buckle up. Although this is common sense for many of us, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42% of people ticketed for not wearing a seat belt in 2012 were teenagers. Scary, considering that’s almost half! The single, most effective way to avoid injury or death is to wear your seat belt. In fact, seat belts saved more than 75,000 lives between 2008 and 2012 according to the NHTSA. Always make sure you and your passengers are safely buckled. Keep in mind that in most states, it’s the law, so Click It or Ticket.
Speeding – Always know the speed limit and adjust your speed accordingly. Speed limits are posted for a reason, to keep you and everyone else on the road safe! Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speeding was a factor in more than 50% of all deadly auto accidents involving a teen driver. This is an alarming statistic. Speed limits represent the safe speed for that designated road and are carefully thought out, always obey the posted speed limit.
Know Your Vehicle – Take the time to get to know your car. If it starts raining while you’re driving and you need the windshield wipers, you’ll be glad you did. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the different controls on the steering wheel and dashboard, know how to turn on the lights and check that they are in proper working conditions, and learn how to check and top off fluids such as motor oil, windshield washer fluid, anti-freeze, etc. Proper tire pressure is extremely important, always have a pressure gauge handy, know how to use it and how to regulate the tire pressure. Before you put the car in drive, adjust the seat, mirrors, and steering wheel for a comfortable drive and to limit blind spots. Lastly, keep up with your vehicle’s maintenance. Not only will this keep your car running efficiently but it can prevent you from being left on the side of the road from an unfortunate breakdown.
Share the Road – Remember you are not the only one on the road. In a day where aggressive driving has become an issue, common courtesy can go a long way. Get in the habit of using your turn signals, not tailgating and allowing other drivers the space to merge. Avoid aggressive drivers and interacting with them. If someone cuts you off or tailgates you, keep it civil. Road rage can easily escalate out of control and result in deadly consequences.
Not only are these tips helpful for new drivers but experienced drivers can re-evaluate their driving habits as well. Adjust your driving habits accordingly and keep it safe on the road – arrive alive!