Teaching your son or daughter to drive can be a bittersweet milestone. Parents are proud to see their children reach an important landmark in their growth. Yet this pride is often tinged with sadness at the recognition that driving may be among the last skills they teach their child before they become a fully independent adult.
Regardless of how parents feel about this milestone, they invariably want to make sure their children learn to drive as safely as possible. Despite years of driving experience, it’s not always obvious what to teach or where to start. Parents may find it hard to teach driving skills that have become second nature to them, that they accomplish without conscious thought.
Parents of teen drivers should prioritize the core essentials of safe driving, including the 12 crucial driving safety tips listed below:
1. Turn off the phone and put it in the glove box
Up to six in ten traffic accidents involving teens involves distracted driving, according to new research commissioned by the American Automobile Association. Cell phones are, by far, the most common source of distraction. Turning cell phones off and putting them out of sight limits the temptations surrounding texting and driving and making or taking phone calls.
2. Respect the speed limit
Excessive speed is a factor in a significant number of crashes, especially among teens who may not understand how to intuitively “feel” the speed they’re driving or who are still learning how to accelerate properly. When riding along with teen drivers, make sure to point out any time they exceed the speed limit by more than a few miles per hour so that they learn to continuously self-monitor their speed as they drive.
3. Zero alcohol tolerance
Teen drivers are less likely than adults to drink and drive, yet they are affected much more severely when they do. Emphasize, in the most compelling way you can, that for teens, even a single drink can result in major impairment and severe consequences and that they should always seek a safe ride home.
4. Avoid harsh cornering
Practically every city and town has a “dead man’s curve” - a sharp bend that ensnares careless drivers. Teach new drivers that the proper way to navigate a corner is to brake prior to the corner when the wheels are still straight. This helps to avoid traction loss that can leave a vehicle skidding out of control at sharp bends.
5. Make seatbelts a habit
It may be hard to believe, but there are still many drivers who don’t wear a seatbelt. Teens, in particular, have a lower rate of seatbelt use than other age groups. The consequences can be disastrous: out of all teen traffic fatalities in 2012, 55 percent were not wearing a seatbelt. Seatbelts use should become be so ingrained that motorists actually feel naked without them.
6. Watch the weather
Poor conditions are a contributing factor in a large number of accidents, and teen drivers are especially vulnerable because they will not have had much practice dealing with difficult conditions such as snow, ice and fog. Teach your son or daughter to compensate for bad weather by slowing down and increasing following distance.
7. Brake gradually before a stop
It can take some time to develop a natural feel for bringing vehicles to a stop, and many new drivers tend to wait too long before they begin braking, requiring them to brake hard to compensate. When riding along with your teen, tell them when they should begin to slow as they approach stop signs and red lights.
8. Use headlights all the time:
Headlight use increases your vehicle’s visibility to other drivers not only at night, but also during the day. Flipping on headlights before every drive is a quick and easy win.
9. Err on the side of caution at yellow lights:
Attempting to outrun yellow lights is a potentially dangerous practice that should be nipped in the bud before it becomes a habit. During ride alongs, teach your son or daughter to always err on the side of caution when approaching yellow lights, which normally means stopping for them rather than running them.
10. Keep hands on the wheel
Drivers have the most control over their vehicle when both hands are on the wheel. When hands aren’t being used for other tasks of driving, like changing gears or activating a turn signal, they should generally be on the wheel and in the “9 and 3 position”. (Note that since the introduction of airbags, the “9 and 3 position” has become the standard rule of thumb for hand placement, replacing the traditional “10 and 2 position”.) Another benefit of keeping hands on the wheel is that it helps discourage distracted driving.
11. Maintain a safe following distance
A safe following distance is key to avoiding obstacles and and hazards on the road. A helpful rule about following distance is to teach that for every 10 miles per hour of speed, there should be one car length between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you.
12. Avoid unnecessary lane changes
Irresponsible lane changes, especially those that stem from aggressive rather than defensive driving, are another cause of many accidents involving teens. Parents should stress the risks of driving behaviors such as weaving between lanes in an effort to get ahead, cutting off other drivers, and dangerous passing.
Cellcontrol helps teen drivers develop safe driving habits. Purchase Cellcontrol for your family to start seeing the benefits today.