Did you know half of all teenagers will be involved in a car accident before they graduate from high school? That means that startlingly, the odds are one in two.
Sometimes, these car accidents are due to a distraction – like a text message or their favorite song on the radio. Other times, they happen because the driver didn’t know a safety rule – like when to pass or change lanes.
As you’re preparing your teen driver to take on the roads, there are tips you can share to help them become the safest driver they can be. Get started, today.
How teens can avoid distracted driving
Every day in the U.S., more than 1,161 people are injured because of distracted driving. And of all age groups, teenagers are most likely to be distracted at the time of a crash. To make sure your teen stays focused and alert, enforce these simple rules:
- Turn off cell phones, or put them in the back seat. At any given moment across the country, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving – and this number is only rising. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, the probability that a car accident involves a cell phone is now one in four. And drivers are four times more likely to get into an accident if they’re using their phone.
- Don’t text and drive. At 55 miles per hour, the average text message takes your teen driver’s eyes off the road while they travel the length of an entire football field.
- Start the GPS before starting the car. If your teen is traveling somewhere new and they need a little assistance from a smartphone app, have them get it started before they go.
- Don’t drive with a passenger. The more passengers your teen totes, the more likely they are to be distracted.
- Don’t eat or drink while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, those who eat and drive increase their odds of getting into a car accident by 80 percent.
- Keep the radio at a reasonable volume. It should always be at a level that lets you hear oncoming emergency vehicles.
Follow the rules of the road
Teenage drivers account for more car accidents than any other age group, and car accidents happen to be the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds. By following basic rules, they’ll be able to keep themselves safer:
- Leave enough space between vehicles. Whether your teen is in motion or at a stop, they should always be able to see the ground between their vehicle and the one ahead of them.
- Don’t switch lanes at an intersection. Changing lanes in the middle of an intersection may or may not be considered illegal in your state, but it’s always considered dangerous.
- Know when it’s okay to pass and when it’s not. New drivers shouldn’t be doing much passing, but they should only be doing it where it’s designated.
- Don’t use cruise control in wet or slippery conditions. If there’s rain, snow or ice, it could be too risky to use the cruise control. Wet roads can be slippery, and going at a constant speed in that condition could lead to hydroplaning.
How teens can stay safe while driving
Small precautions can make all the difference. Before a teen driver gets behind the wheel, teach them the keys to safe driving:
- Make sure the car always has at least a half tank of gas. You always want your child to get where they’re going, without any trouble. That’s why it’s a good rule of thumb to make sure they have the means to do so.
- Stock up on emergency supplies. There are a few things your teen should always keep in their car. See the full list.
- Always know the road they’re on. In case your teen needs to call the police, they’ll need to tell them where they are.
- Adjust the headrest to the right height. Most drivers believe the headrest should be behind the neck, but it should actually be at a height behind the head to minimize whiplash.
- Don’t get out of the car if it’s in the road. If your teen is in a car accident, remind them not to get out of the car – as it’s still the safest place for them to be.
- Drive with the doors locked and the windows rolled up. Keep intruders out and your teen in.
- Leave a phone charger in the car at all times. If something happens to your child while they’re going from Point A to Point B, having a phone charger in the car will ensure they can always call for help.
- Don’t leave valuables in plain sight. When your young driver is parked, encourage them to not leave things like wallets, purses, smartphones, laptops, sports equipment, etc. where they can be easily spotted.
- Park under a street light. Parking in a lit area is always the safest option. And on the way to the car, your teen should walk with their keys in hand.
Not sure what kind of car to buy your teen driver? Our experts have the answers to your questions.