Safe Driving Tips for Teens

Car crashes are the second-leading cause of death for teens in the U.S., but most of these are preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2019, nearly 2,400 teens between the ages of 13 and 19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes. An estimated 258,000 were treated in emergency departments.

The risk of vehicle crashes among teens between the ages of 16 and 19 is higher than any other age group. The crash risk is especially high during your first few months of having your license.

Having passengers with you when you drive is also a major risk factor.

For teens, the following are safe driving tips that are important and possibly could save your life.

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Know the Factors That Most Put You at Risk

If you’re a teen driver or you have a teen, knowing the risk factors is the best way to avoid them. The factors that put teen drivers especially at risk include:

  • A lack of driving experience. When you’re a new driver, you have to accept the reality that you might not be able to recognize or respond to a dangerous situation and a more experienced driver. Being mindful of your lack of experience is a starting point to help you overcome this risk factor.
  • Driving at night or on the weekends. Around 40% of car crashes among teen drivers and their passengers in 2019 occurred between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am. Fifty-two percent occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
  • Research shows that compared to other age groups, teens and young adults tend to have the lowest rates of seatbelt use. Among the teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 who died in crashes in 2019, almost half weren’t wearing their seatbelt at the time of the crash.
  • Distracted driving remains a considerable risk for drivers of all ages, but especially young, inexperienced teens.
  • Speeding is more likely to occur among teen drivers, especially male drivers.
  • Alcohol use is illegal for teens, yet it remains a significant risk factor for fatal accidents.

Don’t Drive Distracted

If there’s one piece of advice that’s perhaps more important than all others for teen drivers, it’s not to drive while you’re distracted. Again, according to research and statistics, most car crashes are due to distracted driving. Distractions can include having passengers in the vehicle with you, multi-tasking, using your phone, or eating and drinking while you’re behind the wheel.

Technology is something that you need to distance yourself from when you’re driving altogether.

You should constantly be scanning the road in front of you and watching for any hazards. When you look down for even just a second, you’re not able to anticipate what’s coming next.

Have a Routine When You Start Your Car

You should, first of all, be familiar with your vehicle and all its components before you start driving.

When you get in your vehicle as an inexperienced teen driver, make sure you have a routine you follow every time.

For example, get in, adjust your mirrors and driving position, and ensure that you buckle your seatbelt. If you do have any passengers, have them buckle their seatbelt as well. Get the radio the way you want it, and put your phone away so there’s no chance it could distract you.

Avoid Driving at Night If You Can

If you’re a teen driver, avoid being on the road at night if at all possible. This isn’t only because it’s harder for you to drive at night, but this is also the time when riskier drivers are on the roads. For example, there are more likely to be tired drivers and drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol if you’re out at night.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

One big reason people might speed and then put themselves and others at risk is that they’re in a hurry or concerned about being late.

If you’re a new teen driver, make it a priority always to give yourself enough time to get where you need to go.

If you have plenty of time, you can drive at a safe pace, and you’ll feel less stressed, so you can focus on driving.

Finally, learn the key principles of defensive driving. For example, check your mirrors often and scan roadway conditions 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. Never depend on other drivers to do the right thing, and follow the 3- to 4-second rule, meaning that you should keep a safe distance from drivers in front of you.

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