Preparing a teen for their driver’s license is both exciting and frightening. The freedom of driving is exhilarating, but the dangers are real. Car insurance for teen drivers is significantly more expensive than it is for more experienced adults — for good reasons. Inexperience and unsafe driving can lead to accidents, and accidents, even minor fender benders, can make a teen’s car insurance even more costly. Using the following five tips while preparing your teen for safe driving can help to ease your concerns and pay dividends down the road.
Teaching your teen the importance of using seat belts is one of the most important safe driving tips that they can learn. Drivers and passengers who are properly restrained during the unfortunate event of an accident almost always suffer far less serious wounds, and have a far lower mortality rate, than those who are not wearing their seatbelts. It is estimated by the National Highway Safety Administration that properly worn seatbelts lower the risk of fatal injuries by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate-to-critical injuries by 50 percent.
Focus, Don’t Become Distracted
Another important safe driving tip is to make sure that your teen knows the dangerous risks of distracted driving. The term distracted driving encompasses many different, and hazardous, activities that take the driver’s focus off of the road. Teach your teen to refrain from using mobile phones and other devices while driving. You should always pull over to use a mobile phone for either calling or sending and receiving text messages. If there are others in the car, have one of the passengers answer the phone, change the CD, tune in to a different station on the radio or change the track on an MP3 player. Any one of these actions can cause dangerous distractions if they are undertaken by the driver.
Don’t Drive When Tired or Sleepy
With the busy schedules of teens today, many will face the challenge of driving while they are drowsy or fatigued. Preparing your teen for safe driving should include a serious warning against driving in such conditions. Most automobile accidents that are caused by fatigue involve drivers that are under 25 years old. In fact, staying awake for 18 hours straight has similar motor reflex effects to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08, and everyone should know the dangers of driving while intoxicated.
Don’t Become Overconfident and Aggressive
A final safe driving tip that you can pass along to your teen driver is a warning against the dangers of aggressive driving. The exhilaration of being a new driver can sometimes lead to unnecessary risk taking (which is also a side effect of inadequate sleep and fatigue). Aggressive driving includes actions such as dangerous or illegal passing on two-lane roads, remaining in the passing lane on highways with four lanes or more, and the all-too-common, and very dangerous, habit of tailgating. With an average of 1,500 injuries being caused each year by aggressive driving practices, it is important for your teen to know that cautious driving is safe driving.
Practice Defensive Driving
Many teen accidents are not caused by the teens themselves or by careless driving, but not being aware of what other drivers around them are doing. Teens tend to become complacent after they’ve become comfortable with their own driving skills. They need to redirect their attention to the many potential dangerous situations that may be caused by the actions of other drivers in their proximity. Learning to monitor their surrounding space and anticipating those actions is called “situational awareness” and is an important skill to be learned by all drivers.
Providing your teens with safe driving tips instills practices that will eventually become habits as they drive through the years. If driving dangerously involves a conscious choice to disregard the safe driving practices that you have imparted, your teen will be less likely to make the poor choices involved with risky driving. When they know the potential consequences of disregarding these simple and safe driving practices, they will wisely take your tips to heart, so that their heart can keep beating for the many years of driving they have ahead of them.