Chapter Thirty-One: Teen Driving Safety Tips

Getting a license is one of the biggest steps you and your child will take together as they grow up. Due to everyone’s excitement for such an incredible time in their lives, it is easy to become distracted from all of the things going on and forego many safety concerns. This list will serve to be a makeshift "pledge" you and your child to make before, and even review after, they begin driving.

Going through an online or in-class driving course and passing the driving test can seem like a big accomplishment for young drivers, but that is just the beginning for what lies ahead. When young drivers begin driving on their own is really when maintaining safe road etiquette becomes a top priority. It is important that parents fully meet the required number of supervised driver hours with their child, and then some, before they let them drive freely on their own. While doing so, it is also key that parents establish a pledge list with their child that goes over a number of safety tips and protects them from harm. Although this pledge can be seen as just as nuisance for your anxious teenager, it can be a good reminder for them when they least expect it.

In no particular order, here is a list for parents to go over with their children when they start driving.

20 Tips For Teen Driving Safety

  1. Always put on a seatbelt. Make it an unconscious effort when getting into the car to automatically put your seatbelt on before the car even starts.
    1. If driving with passengers, make sure they are all buckled up as well, and never drive with more people than the car has seats/seatbelts.
  2. Adjust all seats, mirrors, and headrests before starting the car as well. Make sure everything is in place, and comfortable.
  3. Remember to keep the mindset of a defensive driver and steer clear of aggressive drivers; they cause of a lot of accidents and can potentially be suspects of violent road rage.
  4. Don’t be too overpowering of the road. Be mindful of other drivers and don’t act like you own the road.
  5. Always check for oncoming cars when crossing an intersection.
  6. NEVER check your cell phone while driving. Even if you are receiving a call or a text – it can wait. It’s "just not worth it."
    1. If it is an emergency, pull to the side of the road carefully, park the car, turn the hazards lights on, and when it is safe to do so, return the call or the message. Otherwise, never, ever, use a cell phone while driving. Texting while driving is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, if not worse.
    2. Do not check the phone while stopped at a stoplight. Many states ban using the phone behind the wheel entirely, so it is not only a dangerous behavior, but it can be against the law.
  7.  Obey all speed limits and signs. Going over the speed limit or not paying attention to the signs posted is a careless mistake that can cost a lot in the end.
    1. Freshly minted drivers usually feel a need to drive at excessive speeds and erratically, resulting in a loss of control and eventually, an accident. It is reported that "thirty-seven percent of male drivers between the ages of 15-20 were speeding right before their fatal crash."
  8. If paying attention to the signs, one will notice if they are near a school zone. Always be careful when driving around school zones as school buses may be parked on the side of the road with their lights flashing, indicating that children may be walking around nearby.
    1. For the safety of the driver and the safety of the children, it is important that you drive slowly and carefully through school zones at all times.
  9. Be careful when parking outside. Make sure not to block any fire lanes, any other cars, or driveways.
    1. If living in a car-heavy state, make sure to double-check all of the street parking signs thoroughly!
  10. Be prepared for emergencies before heading out for a long trip, or day-to-day needs.
    1. Be sure the car is equipped with a spare tire, water, flashlight, jumper-cables and an emergency first-aid kit.
    2. These items can all be stored in the trunk of the car and away from immediate view, but can come in handy when need-be.
  11. Limit the amount of night driving. People naturally start to doze off the later it gets. Whether they had a long day, or if they are just getting back after a night out on the town, the road becomes even more dangerous at night.
    1. "17 percent of teenagers’ fatalities occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight, and 24 percent occurred between midnight and 6 a.m."
  12. Following number 11, it is also important to limit the number of passengers in the car, as the presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers.
    1. More people tend to drive together later in the night for reasons stated above or they are just getting back from dinner, trips, extracurricular activities, etc. When there are more people in the car, the driver gets more easily distracted.
    2. Since newly licensed drivers do not have that much experience behind the wheel, it is a good idea to not drive so many people around and run the risk of getting distracted and causing an accident because of it.
    3. In addition, depending on which state in the U.S., there are different laws regulating when new drivers can take other people in their cars. For example, in California, a person cannot drive anyone except a parent/guardian or someone over the age of 25 until they have had their license for a full year. This law hopes to prevent many potential distractions for young drivers, who are still trying to get the hang of safe driving by themselves.
  13. DON’T drink and drive!
    1. Although the law prohibits teenagers to drink, many still do, and act irresponsibly.
    2. Drinking and driving is one of the leading causes of teenage deaths, so it is extremely important to take responsibility and obey the law.
    3. Don’t give into peer pressure to drink.
    4. If you do make a mistake of acting irresponsibly and give into peer pressure to drink, NEVER get behind the wheel.
      1. It is always safer to just call your parents or guardian and arrange for them to pick you up wherever you are.
      2. Being truthful with your parents, understanding, and admitting to the mistake you made will always, always, be safer than driving drunk.
  14. Try not to play with the radio too much, or eat while driving. These, again, are major distractions and can cause your mind to wander, which can cause an inexperienced driver to lose control of the car or not notice other cars braking in front.
  15. Turn on your headlights even during the day.
    1. It is a little-known fact that turning on the headlights during the day actually decreases the chances of getting into an accident.
    2. Something so simple can help protect so many lives.
  16. Utilize turn signals!
    1. They are a great communicating device between drivers and can help others predict your movements, as well as the movement of others.
    2. The road becomes a safer place when drivers know where the other drivers are going.
  17. Be aware of any signals on the dashboard indicating if anything is wrong.
  18. Check the amount of gas in the tank before leaving anywhere.
    1. Have a backup plan if the car does run out of gas.
  19. Parents, set a good example for your kids while driving!
  20. Stay safe, be mindful, be defensive, and remember, "it’s just not worth it."