As of 2020, almost 3,000 teenagers ages 16-20 died in motor vehicle crashes. In fact, for the same age group, 30% of the drivers who were killed in auto crashes were under the influence of alcohol. Being a part of such a high-risk group can be scary but driving safely is a goal that is attainable. Protecting yourself on the road is easier when you know the rules of safe driving and how to anticipate unexpected road hazards.
Young drivers should absolutely consider the following safe driving guidelines to help protect them from becoming another fatality statistic.
Safety Tip #1: Don’t be in a hurry!
One of the worst feelings is being late and rushing out of the door. No matter if it is just meeting up with some friends or being late to school, speeding to the destination is never the right answer. Allow plenty of time to get where you’re going, so that you never get behind the wheel feeling frantic.
Safety Tip #2: Drive at the speed limit and adjust your speed down for night driving and road conditions
Specific changes in road conditions could be anything like rain, snow, ice, or fog which can cause the roads to be slippery with unexpected traffic changes. Driving at nighttime is something that new drivers and young adults should try to limit as much as possible. According to Mercury Insurance, there are almost three times more amount of accidents during nighttime then there are during the day.
Safety Tip #3: Drive defensively
Even drivers who are older than 20-30 should still try to drive defensively, it allows you to keep a safer mindset while on the road and could help prevent a lot of unnecessary accidents.
There are some safe driving programs and defensive driving classes that may be able to reach a younger audiences decision making as well. It is also important to look out for other people on the road such as other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and animals.
Safety Tip #4: Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you
Don’t be a tailgater, it is extremely important to not overreact while being a young or newer driver. Getting too close to another person’s car can cause them to get upset and engage in road rage. Emotionally charged situations have been considered to be one of the main reasons for compromised driving performance because of anger or distractions. Not only can keeping a safe distance help with limited road rage, but it can also help with the avoidance of a rear end collision.
Safety Tip #5: Always wear your seat belt
Although this tip may not help you avoid an accident, it sure can save you from one. Making sure all passengers are wearing a seatbelt can keep everyone as protected as possible from the time you leave to the time you arrive at the desired destination. As a driver you may also avoid getting any tickets by putting this on every time, just one click and it can save a life.
Safety Tip #6: Never play around with the radio, cruise control or cell phone
It is so tempting to pick up the phone while driving to text our friends or change the music. This can be avoided by keeping your phone in a hard-to-reach spot, so it is not a distraction, or even pulling over to make a phone call or answer a message. Create a car driving playlist so scrolling through music apps does not need to be done every time the song ends. Looking down and back up after checking our phones seems quick but is the same amount of time it takes to get in an accident. Minimize distractions as it is dangerous and decreases your concentration.
Safety Tip #7: Ride only with sober drivers
If you carpooled with others to a specific event or night out and notice the driver has been drinking or is not sober, spring for an uber. Calling an Uber or Lyft takes less than 5 minutes and could essentially save a life.
The other option is to offer to drive especially if you know and are comfortable getting behind the wheel. Almost half of the people who die in car crashes are the passengers.
Safety Tip #8: Make sure your car is in good working order
Properly maintaining your car can help avoid any car problems while in the middle of the road. Change things like your oil on a consistent schedule and do not wait until it is too late. Check tire pressure and rotate them by taking a monthly note of all four tires conditions. Always fill up your gas tank before driving too far or before getting stuck on the freeway, this can cause a multitude of different accidents. Know how to fill the gas tank, check the oil, change a flat tire, gauge tire pressure, fill windshield wiper fluid, and check windshield wipers for wear.
Safety Tip #9: Keep your car free of trash and clean all windows and mirrors
Before you start driving you should always get situated to feel comfortable the whole way until you have reached your destination. Adjusting your seat, and all mirrors should already be done so this does not become an easy distraction while driving. Clean your car, inside and out of any trash and dirt. Feeling comfortable can help with the attention span of driving and improve the quality for the whole ride. It’s not good when your diet soda can gets lodged under the brake pedal.
- Safe Driving Tips for Teenage Drivers, Mercury Insurance.
- Facility Facts 2020 Teenagers, IIHS.