7 Lessons Your Teen Driver Should Know Before Hitting the Road
No matter how old they get, our children will always be our babies, just as it will always be our mission to protect them. One of the scariest times for a parent is coming to the realization that unfortunately, we won’t always be around to shield them from the dangers of the world or the danger that they pose to themselves. All we can do, all any parent can ever do, is to prepare our children for what could happen.
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that in 2013 alone, over 963,000 vehicular accidents occurred in the United States involving a teen driver.1 Teaching our teens to be cautious and conscious drivers is the first step toward making sure that they keep themselves—and others—safe while on the road. The next step is to prepare them for what will happen in the event that they are involved in a crash. Below is a list of the lessons you should make sure are instilled in your teen driver before they hit the road.
1. Always Wear a Seatbelt
Wearing a seatbelt can reduce crash-related injuries and deaths by almost 50%,2 and should be second nature to your teen if you plan on allowing them to drive. Set a good example by making sure that you’re always wearing your seatbelt in front of your kids (and any other time). Also, make it clear to your teen that if you find out that they have been driving without wearing one or requiring their passengers to wear one, that their driving privileges will be revoked.
2. Never Drive Under the Influence
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a deadly combination. Always let your child know that if they find themselves or someone they’re riding with impaired, that they should feel comfortable with reaching out to you for a ride. Another way to avoid your teens fear of punishment and therefore their decision to drive is to set them up with an Uber account that you fund in the event of such emergencies. If you catch your child drinking on a regular basis (even if they don’t drive while doing so), consider removing their driving privileges and access to the vehicle altogether.
3. Never Drive Distracted
Between cell phones and the temptation of their friends, teens face a lot of dangers when it comes to being on the road. Distracted driving is one of the major causes of accidents among teens because it takes the drive’s eyes and attention off of the road, reducing and even eliminating their reaction time. Help your teens resist the temptation of looking down at their phone by setting up their car’s Bluetooth system prior to them jumping behind the wheel. Also consider placing a limit on the amount of friends your teenage driver can have in their car at one time.
4. Make Sure Your Teen Knows How to Handle Common Driving Mistakes
- Stop signs: Drivers must always come to a complete stop at a stop sign, no matter what. When dealing with a four-way stop, whoever arrives at the intersection first has the right-of-way. In the instance of more than one vehicle arriving at the stop sign at the same time, those turning left must yield to oncoming cars.
- Following too closely behind: Keep in mind the 3-Second Rule! There should be a minimum of three seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you at all times. A good way to check that you’re the correct distance is to pick a stationary point (like a light post) and count the time it takes for the car in front of you to pass that point before you do.
- Flashing Lights: Emergency lights are used to warn other vehicles that your car is in a breakdown or emergency situation and that you’re in need of assistance. Never use your flashers in the rain.
5. Make Sure They Know how to Drive in All Types of Weather
Different climates present different conditions under which your teen driver will have to navigate. Make sure that your teen knows the proper way to handle driving in the snow, rain, and any other potentially hazardous situations where visibility Is low. Remind them that during these times, it’s best to allow extra distance between your car and the vehicle ahead, and to keep their speed slower than usual.
6. Prepare Your Teen for the Pull Over
Chances are that your teen will slip up, just as adults do every now and then. Whether they’re pulled over for speeding to get to school on time or running through a red light, teens need to know how to behave when they’re face-to-face with a police officer. Make sure they’re aware that as soon as there is somewhere safe to pull over to the side of the road, they do so and immediately put on their emergency flashers, lower their window, and prepare to hand over their driver’s license and registration. The most important thing to impress upon your teen is to remain respectful throughout the process while following the officer’s instructions exactly.
7. Always Have a Backup Plan
In the event that your teen driver is in an accident where their vehicle is damaged to the point that it is un-drivable, make sure that they have a backup plan in place. Program the number to a respected tow truck company in their phone, and make sure that they know to call them after they call the police and you. For increased safety, place an emergency kit in the truck of their car and teach them the proper way to handle various breakdown situations depending on where they are.
Our children are our most prized possessions, and while letting them go can be a scary affair, teaching them how to be responsible is the best defense you can give them. At Duvall’s Towing Service, we take safety seriously. Keep our number handy and give us a call at (561)432-8488 if you ever find yourself or your teen in an emergency towing situation.
- Basic Facts About Teen Crashes. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2015, from http://www.teendriversource.org/stats/support_teens/detail/57
- Eight Danger Zones. (2015, October 14). Retrieved December 15, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/ParentsAreTheKey/danger/index.html