Safe Driving Tips for Teens

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When you're a teenager, getting your driver's license and enjoying the freedom of the road is a big deal. If you're a parent of a teen driver, you naturally worry about your child being behind the wheel. After all, in America, while teen drivers only make up around seven percent of the population, they account for eleven percent of motor vehicle injuries.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), teenagers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than drivers in their twenties. The IIHS says the main reason for teens' poor record when it comes to driving safely involves their lack of experience behind the wheel, especially in hazardous conditions. After all, it takes time and experience to learn how to properly gauge oncoming traffic when making a turn or learning to speed up and merge into highway traffic. Experiences such as driving at night when it is difficult to see or in dangerous weather conditions including pelting rain, sleet, and snow, is all new to a teen driver. Learning to drive safely is a complex dance that includes eye, hand, and foot coordination. For example, it is easy to miscalculate the speed of oncoming vehicles and judge when it is safe to make a left-hand turn in traffic. Plus, teen drivers are more likely to speed and tailgate behind other drivers which can lead to potential hazards and even fatal crashes.

Support on the Road

As a parent, what can you do to help your teen driver be safe on the road? Here are a few important tips to promote safe driving no matter what your age is. Driver's Ed programs give just six hours of on-the-road training, and your teen needs at least 50 hours on the road to become a proficient driver. So even after they get their learner's permit, tag along with them to provide real world driver's education, offering suggestions and support on the road.

Teen Driving Tips

The first step in safe driving requires you to really know the vehicle you are going to pilot. Read the owner's manual from cover to cover. Know where all the controls are and what they do before you start the motor. Make sure you know what all the instrument panel and dashboard lighted icons mean. Parents, teach your teen driver how to open the hood, check the engine oil, brake, and power steering fluid. Show them where the tire jack and tools are located. Teach them how to check the tire pressure for proper inflation and how to change a flat tire. This isn't just about bonding time; your child will use these skills for life.
When you drive, you want the vehicle to fit you like a glove, especially behind the wheel. You want to adjust the ergonomics in the cabin to fit your child perfectly. Show your teen how to adjust the driver's seat to perfectly reach the foot pedals without lifting their heels. Show them how to adjust the steering wheel and mirrors. You want them to have an unobstructed view around the vehicle. When the driver's arms are extended over the wheel, you want the wrists to lay comfortably on top of the wheel for proper fitment.
Make sure your teen fastens and adjusts their seat belt before they are allowed to start the car. Make this pre-start routine a priority and a habit. Which leads us to our next tip.
Car accidents due to distracted driving is a soaring problem today. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving caused the deaths of over 3,000 people last year. Parents have to lead by example on this. It is best to place your cellphone in the glove compartment while driving. It's just too much of a temptation to answer your phone for a call or text while driving. If you absolutely must make a phone call, pull off the road to do so.
Teens like to drive other teens around. It's sort of a rite of passage. But passengers mean distraction as well. Distracted driving can be caused by noisy passengers goofing around and playing with their own smartphones. Refrain from cranking up the tunes when driving. Remember that you are in control of your passengers' safety when you are behind the wheel.
Teach your teen to always scan the roadway far ahead of them and be on the lookout for possible road hazards. Defensive driving is a must. Assume that all other drivers are out to get you. Possible hazards include kids running out in the street, dogs or other wildlife darting out in front of the vehicle, motorcycles splitting lanes, erratic drivers, and road debris from rocks and tire chunks to stuff falling out of the back of trucks.
Make sure your teen is taught to keep their eyes on the road. A glance down to change radio stations destroys your response time if you need to hit the brakes.
The essence of safe driving involves creating an invisible bubble around your vehicle. Give yourself plenty of room around your car so that you can see and be seen by other drivers. In other words, don't tailgate, don't speed, and make sure you can see traffic ahead and behind you at all times. Teach your teen that following too closely behind another vehicle severely limits your ability to stop if that driver suddenly slams on his or her brakes.
It is important to check your rearview and side mirrors every 30 seconds or less to access driving conditions behind you. Teach your teen to always check the vehicle's blind spots before making a lane change. Always know what is around your car before you make a move to change lanes.
Remember that speeding causes one third of all motor vehicle fatalities each year taking the lives of over 11,000 people last year alone.

Tips for Parents

  • As a parent of a teen driver, you want to make sure your child gets plenty of practice behind the wheel. Once your teen has his or her learner's permit, drive with them to offer tips and insights that will help make them a safer driver. Start with basic skills such as stopping, starting, parking, then add driving at night, driving on highways, and driving in rain.
  • Make sure the car your teen is driving meets all safety requirements and take time to teach them how to properly maintain the vehicle. When choosing a car for your teen to drive, keep in mind that SUVs have a higher center of gravity and are easier to flip over in an accident than midsize or full-size sedans.
Wrap Up
One of the most important things you can do to assure your teen is a safe driver is to set a good example yourself. Don't drive erratically, weaving in and out of traffic. Use your turn signals. Refrain from road rage. Remain calm and give others the right of way. Be the driver you want your teen to be. Obviously, no drinking and driving, and no driving if you are under the influence of any drug, prescription or otherwise. No eating while driving, no speeding, and no using your smartphone while driving. Limit all distractions and teach your teen to use their seat belts at all times!
At Lithia Motors we want you to be a safe driver and we want you to teach your children to be safe drivers as well because we care about your wellbeing and want to keep you as customers for life!