10 Things to Teach New Drivers to Help Prevent Teen Driving Accidents
After spending years protecting your children, you now face the prospect of handing them the keys to the family car. With an average of six teenagers killed in vehicle-related accidents every day, it’s essential that teen drivers are taught basic skills for accident prevention. And though teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 face a higher risk of being involved in a fatal collision than any other age group, teen driving accidents are entirely preventable.
As your teenager prepares to drive alone, guide them with these 10 rules to help minimize their risk of being involved in a deadly crash.
1. Being Late is Better Than Speeding
Evidence from driving studies shows that teens’ speeding behavior increases over time. And with speeding cited as a factor in 32 percent of the fatal crashes involving teen drivers, it’s critical that parents get involved.
Teens who are monitored closely tend to speed less, as are teens who drive the family sedan according to a GHSA study. If possible, hold off on buying that new car until good habits have been formed.
2. Turn Off Cell Phone or Use a Text-Blocking App
Teens’ inexperience behind the wheel makes them more prone to distraction even though one in three teens who text says they’ve done so while driving. Research has found that teens are six times more likely to crash while dialing a phone number and 23 times more at risk while texting.
Download a text-blocking app or make it a rule to turn off cell phones while driving since it can increase their ability to react to roadway hazards, incidents, or bad weather.
3. Wear Your Seatbelt Every Time
Tragically, teen drivers are the least likely to use seatbelts. In 2016, a total of 818 teen drivers and 569 passengers died in vehicles driven by teen drivers. Nearly 58 percent of them were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash.
Help your teen understand that not only is buckling up the law, it’s also one of the best ways to reduce the risk of death and injury in a crash. Be an example every time and enforce passenger seat belt use as an ongoing reminder.
4. Never Drink and Drive
Remind your teen that underage drinking is illegal and driving under the influence of any impairing substance could have deadly consequences. Law enforcement officers will be able to test for any trace of these substances at any time.
However, be clear that if there is ever an incident in which they or a fellow driver have consumed alcohol, that you are available to pick them up without punishment.
5. Restrict Teen Passengers
In a NHTSA study, teen drivers were two-and-a-half times more likely to engage in risky behaviors when driving with one peer, compared to when driving alone. In fact, according to the same study, the risk of a fatal crash went up in direct relation to the number of teenagers in the car.
In North Carolina, 16-year-old drivers are not allowed to have more than one passenger under 21. Familiarize yourself with these graduated driver licensing restrictions and enforce them with your teen.
6. Program the GPS Before Leaving
If your teen is unfamiliar with how to reach a driving destination, make sure that the location is programmed into the vehicle’s GPS before leaving. Entering a destination in the GPS should never be done while driving as it requires the driver to take his or her eyes off the road and at least one hand off the wheel. Remind them to be safe and pull over to program a route if they’re already driving.
7. Follow the 3 to 4-second Rule
Rear-end collisions are the most common accidents between vehicles. Teach your teen to increase their following distance, so they’ll have more time to react when someone brakes in front of them.
The National Safety Council recommends a minimum three-second following distance, although this increases in bad weather. Help your teen learn how to do this by noting when the vehicle ahead passes a fixed marker, then timing how long it takes for them to pass the same spot. If it’s not at least three seconds, they need to leave more space.
8. Check Mirrors and Blind Spots Before Merging
Teach your child that if he or she wants to merge into another lane, it’s important to check mirrors and blind spots first. Show your teen driver where the vehicle’s blind spots are, how to adjust mirrors to minimize blind spots and how to check mirrors for traffic.
9. Practice Defensive Driving Techniques
If you teach your teen defensive driving and continual scanning, they’ll be more likely to spot potential hazards in the future:
- Scan the roadway and mirrors at all times
- Use the 3- to 4-second rule for following distance
- Know your vehicle’s stopping distance
- Increase distance around aggressive drivers
- Eliminate cell phone distractions
- Avoid blind spots by staying visible
10. Always Signal (And Follow Rules of the Road)
Using your brakes and turn signals is one of the simplest ways to communicate with other drivers. A teen’s failure to use a turn signal could lead to an accident in which they would likely be found at fault. Signaling, along with strict adherence to other driving rules can help prevent accidents.
Set the example by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving. New teen drivers most often learn from watching their parents.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Learning that your child was injured in a car accident can leave many unanswered questions:
- How severe is the injury?
- Is my child’s life in danger?
- Will the injury be permanent?
You might also be asking if someone else was at-fault for the crash. Contact our experienced car accident lawyers at Campbell & Associates for a free consultation at 704-333-0885. Our North Carolina car accident attorneys will review your case to determine if your child may be entitled to medical compensation and other damages.