Teen Driver Safety

There’s nothing that gets the parental panic alarms going like their teenage son or daughter heading out onto the open road for the first time, accompanied or not. It’s a hard thing, to let your child put themselves out there in the world, and especially when traffic accidents among youth happen at more tragic rates than older adults. There are some simple things you can do, however, that will help keep your teens safe out on the road.

1. Look at advanced driving courses
Drivers-ed and on-road practice may be enough to get you through a basic driving test, but it’s only the more advanced courses that better prepare young people for what’s really out there. Learn more defensive driving techniques through extra courses, and boost your teen’s safety knowledge and overall driving ability.

2. Stay well within the limits
When you’re a less experienced driver, it stands to reason that you should operate well within the recommended guidelines of road safety. Therefore, if the guidelines say keep at least two car-lengths of distance between you and the car in front, go ahead and throw in another for good measure. Is the speed limit 60mph? Drive at 50mph.

3. Turn the cell phone OFF
Switching to silent or vibrate-only just might not cut it in this age of smartphone-obsessed youth. In the 2000s, it was texting and driving that was the problem, but now it’s “every app under the sun” and driving that’s the problem. Encourage teens to turn the phone right off while driving.

If the phone is kept on, then it still needs to be put out of sight and not be used at all while driving, even while sitting still in traffic. As soon as the phone is back in their hands, even for a minute, it’ll be “Oh, I’ll just check Facebook while the light is red” and “It’s okay! I can edge forward slowly in traffic while I read this bit of news.” No phone use means no phone use.

4. Avoid extreme weather conditions
While you are still finding your driver’s legs, it might not be a good idea to go out in adverse weather conditions. High winds can make driving a huge challenge for even an experienced motorist. Heavy rains reduce visibility, fog is an even greater challenge. If the weather looks sour, consider public transport and give your car a break. Wait until you have a bit more experience, or until you can have someone accompany you.

5. Make more use of your headlights
Finally, teens should remember that headlights are not just to see better at night. They are also to help others better see you! Using headlights from the late afternoon as the sun heads down over the horizon is a good habit to develop from a young age. Pedestrians and motorists alike often underestimate how much the dimming light effects the efficacy of their eyes.

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