If you have a teen that just passed their driver's test or are currently in driver's education, remember that this moment is an important, life-changing accomplishment for them. Even though you won't be physically by their side when they're behind the wheel, you can still offer them your support and driving wisdom beforehand.
According to the CDC, vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. It's scary and the last thing you want to imagine, so it's important to make sure they're truly prepared for driving.
Thankfully, you can guide your teen to ensure their driving experience is as safe as possible with these helpful tips:
- Follow the speed limit. I t's an obvious one. But when you go too fast, you have less time to stop or react. Speeding is one of the leading causes of teenage accidents. Another obvious and important reminder – always wear your seatbelt! According to the CDC, wearing a seat belt can lower the risk of death in car accidents by nearly 50%.
- Make sure your seat is adjusted properly to your height. This is very important because if you can't see through your rear view mirror, it can affect your driving. A good way to tell if the mirror is in the right spot is if you can see the headlights of the car behind you. Also, make sure to adjust your door mirrors on the drivers and passenger side.
- Keep that windshield clean. Keeping your car clean isn't just about style. In the morning and evening, light reflecting off a dirty windshield can temporarily blind you while you're driving.
- Always check your blind spot. Thoughtlessly changing lanes can lead to a dangerous situation, especially with smaller vehicles like motorcycles.
- Use your turn signals. Whether you're turning or changing lanes, you need to give the car behind you enough time to react.
- Be cautious for aggressive drivers. If you do encounter an angry driver, back off and give them space on the road. The best thing is to stay calm to avoid getting into an accident with this person, or another driver on the road.
- Don't use cruise control in the rain or snow. Using this feature during heavy rain, snow or ice can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
- Keep your hands on the wheel, and off your cell phone! Texting and driving has become the number one distraction for teens and adults. A text isn't worth anyone's life, and each time you take your eyes off the road, you put yourself and others at risk. Another reason to keep your eyes on your phone – you will get a ticket! According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 47 states have banned text messaging for drivers. If you get caught, you may get slapped with a big fine, and get points on your driving record. A good way to avoid this is to keep your phone in a place that you can't reach while you're driving.
For the first few weeks, it might be a good idea to have your teen start off with small trips that are less than five miles away. It will help build confidence, and allow them to get more comfortable with driving alone. If you're still nervous, there are other options you can look into, such as a GPS tracking device or smartphone apps that will monitor location and driving speeds. Plus, larger automakers have actually installed systems in their new models that allow parents to set limits on speed and drive time, so keep an eye out for those.