Well you did it--you survived another Summer vacation season. It's that time of year when kids across the country are gearing up to go back to school. If you're like many parents, you've been buying school supplies and school clothes for the past few weeks. From pens and pencils to that new pair of sneakers, you want to make sure your kids are fully prepared for that first day. This can be especially true for your teen driver as we are still in what transportation industry experts call the 100 Deadliest Days. It's this time of year, between Memorial Day and Labor Day where auto crashes, injuries and deaths spike.
It's the most dangerous time of year for inexperienced motorists and teen drivers, where the average number of deadly teen crashes climbs 15%. Moreover, a recent study from AAA revealed that teens are 3x more likely to be involved in a deadly crash during this time of year over any other.
So here are four driving safety tips for your teen as they head back to school.
1. Wear Your Seatbelt
You'd think it would go without saying, but tell them again: wear your seatbelt. Though they've been standard in automobiles for the last 70 years, one in seven people still do not wear a seatbelt. A recent NHTSA study found that seatbelt use was lower in 16-24-year olds, than any other age group. However, seatbelts remain one of the most effective ways to prevent injuries and death during a crash, reducing the chances of serious injury and death by up to 50%. So your teen heads back to school this year, emphasize the importance of buckling up on every trip, and lead by example yourself.
2. Share the road with others
You already know morning commutes are a congested time on the road. This can be especially true when school is in session. Make sure your teen knows to look out for school buses, pedestrians, cyclists, as well as their fellow drivers. They should always watch for younger pedestrians, especially in school zones. In most states around the country bicycles are treated the same as motor vehicles on the road. There should always be 3-feet of space between your car and the cyclist. They should be extra vigilant in neighborhoods and school zones as cyclists may be emerging suddenly from driveways, etc. Your teen probably covered it in driver's education training, but it might be a good idea to remind them about school bus safety. In all 50 states, it is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. And they should keep at least 10 feet back from the bus, especially if it is stopped.
3. Eliminate distractions
Commuting during peak traffic times by itself can be a stressful, distracting experience. This is before the many distractions a driver can encounter on the road or behind the wheel. Make sure your teen knows how important it is that 100% of their attention is on the road. Music and passengers can be very distracting to your teen, in fact, a teen's risk increases 50-400% depending on the number of passengers they have in their car. Your teen's cell phone also holds a multitude of distractions, from texts and calls to Snapchat, Instagram and Pokemon Go. Just a few months ago, a driver sideswiped a police car while playing Pokemon Go. If your teen has a problem with being addicted to their phone, preventative technologies like Cellcontrol can help keep them safe.
4. Be early
This is a good rule of thumb at night and in the mornings. Teens are some of the most sleep-deprived drivers on the road. Going to bed early so as to get a good night's sleep ensures your teen is ready to perform their best work, even behind the wheel. Running late for school can cause a teen to rush, and rushing behind the wheel can be most dangerous. From speeding to weaving around other drivers, teens can make poor decisions behind the wheel when they're late for school. Encourage them to get into the habit of leaving 10 minutes early so as to avoid the rush and worry.