Handing your teenager the car keys for the first time sparks an overload of emotions, ranging from excitement and pride to worry and fear. For anyone on the road, no matter how long they’ve had their license, the safety of themselves, passengers, fellow drivers, and pedestrians should always be the top priority. Driving is so much more than getting from point A to point B; it’s about arriving at the destination safely.
Studies have shown that newly licensed drivers are at a much greater risk of experiencing a crash. According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, crash rates are roughly 1.5 times higher for 16-year-old drivers than 18-year-olds behind the wheel.
If you’re a parent or guardian of a teen, it’s your responsibility to make sure they practice safe driving from the get-go. As a trusted role model, setting a positive example is another goal that can ultimately save lives. Learning good habits early on will set a precedent for the rest of their lives on the road. Here are a few key driving safety tips for teen drivers to help put your emotions – and their first drive jitters – at ease.
safe driving tips for Teenage drivers
Buckle up and obey the speed limit
This may sound obvious, but fastening your seatbelt is one of the first things everyone should do the moment they sit in the car. It’s been proven that seatbelts save thousands of lives annually. It’s also crucial to never exceed the speed limit, even when it seems others on the road are driving faster. While teens may find it thrilling to accelerate, be sure to instill it’s simply not worth it to drive faster than necessary. Not only are they more susceptible to being pulled over and ticketed, but they’re more likely to be involved in a crash. According to Governors Highway Safety Administration, more than one-third of fatal motor vehicle crashes involving teens were caused by speeding, and 43% of speeding-related deaths were those of teenagers.
With our smartphones and other digital devices constantly at our fingertips, it can be very tempting to text, talk, browse social media, and play music while the car is in motion. However, doing so can pose a tremendous risk, not only for the driver, but for passengers and anyone outside the vehicle too. Remind your teen that there isn’t a call, text, song, or social media post worth anyone’s life. If they are involved in an emergency and must make a call, advise them to safely pull over to the side of the road.
In addition to the use of smartphones, other common distracted driving behaviors include eating and drinking, listening to music at a high volume, reading, doing homework, studying, daydreaming, and partaking in emotional conversations. The number of passengers should be kept to a minimum. This not only minimizes the risk of someone else getting hurt, but it also drastically lowers the temptations of distracted driving. Driving while tired is another risky move. Especially for teenagers, brains work best when they focus on one thing at a time — in this case, driving.
know features of the car
Whether your teen is driving a used car that has been in the family for generations or a shiny new car with state-of-the-art features, understanding the ins and outs of the vehicle is important. Before operating the car, teens should thoroughly know the functions and signals. That way, they won’t get distracted trying to figure it out on the road. Knowing basic car maintenance such as how to change a tire and checking the oil levels can also come in handy in case of an emergency.
Take caution of the little things
Even the smallest precautions can make the biggest difference when it comes to teen driving safety. For example:
- As a rule of thumb, the gas tank should always be at least 1/4 full. In the wintertime, especially here in Wisconsin, it’s best if the tank is at least half full.
- Never leave valuables or personal belongings in plain sight.
- Park in well-lit areas whenever possible.
- Be familiar with your location at all times.
- Stock up on emergency supplies, such as a first-aid kit, jumper cables, an ice scraper, bottled water, and wholesome snacks.
- Keep your auto insurance card and car registration in an easily accessible location, such as the glovebox, just in case.
Young drivers can never get too much practice, which is why it’s important for teens to feel extremely comfortable before hitting the road by themselves. When they are finally ready to experience independence, be sure to invest in the best car insurance to keep them safe. To learn more, contact your local Rural Mutual agent today.