It’s dangerous out there on the road, and teen drivers suffer a disproportionate number of accidents. Whether that’s because of the newness of driving, or because of the distractions teens can face in this day and age, we don’t know. So in honor of National Teen Driver Safety Week, we’re bringing out our seven best driving tips for teens (though some old hands at the wheel can probably use a reminder of a couple of these as well).
Buckle Up. Always
You can learn more about the cold, hard facts about seatbelt-less fatalities in another post but long story short: buckling up can save your life. So do it.
Get a feel for how your car handles
How does your handling change when going fast or on a turn? When you stomp on the break how soon will your car stop? While you have to be careful where you figure out the answers to these questions (a busy road during rush hour is not the best place) it’s good to get a feel for the vehicle in real, extreme conditions before you need that knowledge to avoid a crash.
Do you know what to do if you end up in an accident? Read more here about what steps to take and how to be prepared.
Know Your Car
While driver’s education probably covered the importance of a turn signal, that doesn’t mean you know how to actually turn it on. Make sure you understand how to activate turn signals, gear shifter, headlights, windshield wipers, cruise control, and hazard lights before you get on the road. Most of these are clustered in the same general area and are wildly different on different vehicles. There’s nothing more embarrassing (and distracting) than trying to set your cruise and turning the windshield wipers on by mistake.
Use the right lane unless passing
The left lane is for passing, the right lane is for your normal driving needs. Mixing up those two can result in other people swerving around you or being consumed by road rage and becoming stupid drivers themselves.
Always check your blind spot
Motorcyclists and other drivers can be sneaky (even when they don’t mean to be). No matter how aware you are of your surrounding, another vehicle can sneak into the horrible spot where you can’t see them, so always check before moving lanes or turning. It’s also good to stay out of other people’s blind spot because, let’s face it, not everyone is going to be as awesome as you at checking every time.
Stay off the phone
While smartphone integrative technology like the Uconnect or the Ford SYNC3 can help you use the phone hands free, the cellphone will always be a distraction. Drivers of all ages should be wary of taking calls or texting while driving, and you should never take your hands off the wheel to do either.
Be extra careful when driving with other people
Being distracted by friends can be awesome, but being distracted can be deadly when you are driving, for you and for them. While it may be tempting to offer to become chauffer for your friend group as soon as you get your license (because, hey, you can drive now!) it might be better to wait for a while until you really have the confidence and experience to know when you can hand out and when you need to drive.
Good luck and stay safe out there at every age!