These Tips Could Save Your Teen Driver’s Life

I found this article today at and wanted to share it with by blog readers. It is a very great and powerful article about teen drivers!

Traffic accidents are the major cause of teen deaths. Parents who serve as good role models for a young driver can help prevent a tragedy.

For first responders, it’s a scene that has become all too commonplace. One moment an entire family is driving home from a local outing and just blocks from their residence. In the next moment, they’re involved in a horrific traffic accident that either completely or nearly kills the entire family.

After firefighters work feverishly, using the Jaws of Life to pry apart steel wrapped around steel, to get to the injured parties, they often find out that the accident involved a teenage driver. And many of those teen drivers become fatalities as well.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009 there was a total of 3,081 fatal traffic accidents (these are the latest stats) on California’s highways. Of those, 351 involved drivers between the ages of 16 and 20. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers and young drivers in this age bracket across the nation, and the causes are many, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles:

* Unsafe speed: 35 percent.

* Not yielding the right of way: 20 percent.

* Improper turns: 15 percent.

* Alcohol-related: 5 percent.

An ever increasing statistical bracket is distracted drivers (texting, cell-phone usage, other teens in the car).

In a huge proportion of cases, these fatalities are preventable because they involve unnecessary risk taking, not wearing seat belts and lack of skill. The risk of accidents is three times higher when driving at night and 3.6 times higher when other passengers are in the car.

Although overall statistics for teen-related traffic deaths are down, many of the habits that our teen drivers learn begin at home. As parents, we have more influence than we sometimes know. So these tips, accompanied by some strong parenting, can help make your teen’s driving experience a little safer:

1) Never expect that your teen driver is going to learn everything from driver’s training courses. They need practice, and lots of it! Schedule times for them to drive, first in unpopulated areas, and then when you’re comfortable, heavier traffic areas.

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2) The fruit never falls far from the tree. If you drive like an idiot, then what do you expect from your teen? They need a strong role model who can explain, not only how, but why you do the things you do. Use a lot of teachable moments.

3) Always insist on using seat belts at all times! This is something that should be taught to them almost from birth. Remember, “Click It or Ticket.”

4) Limit nighttime driving and additional passengers in the car. You know when your teen driver is ready to take on more responsibility. There’s no rush to drive at night.

5) “Take this phone and shove it!” Need I say more? Put them in the trunk, keep them in the back seat, and remove any temptation to text or talk on the phone. And you can’t keep constantly calling them to ask their whereabouts if this tip is going to work.

6) Drinking and driving is a no-brainer. It’s unacceptable and should be subject to severe consequences if the law doesn’t have its way with your teen first

Summer is a Dangerous Time for Teen Drivers

This coming weekend will mark the beginning of summer for many schoolchildren. It also is the start of the most dangerous time of year for young people on the nation’s roads.

States have done just about everything they can to try to improve the traffic safety record among teens; Now it’s up to teens and their families and friends to do even more.

The statistics don’t lie. Drivers age 16 to 20 account for more highway deaths than any other 5-year age group, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, and the death rate is worst during the summer months — when teens are driving and playing more than during school.

The problem is compounded by the fact that teen drivers and their passengers also are the least likely to use seat belts.

And it doesn’t help that the inexperienced drivers in this age group also are most likely to be distracted — by friends and by cell phones, especially.

Most states require that a 15-year-old who has completed basic driver’s education requirements must then spend 50 hours over the next six months driving with a parent or guardian, 10 of those hours at night.

During this superviser learning program parents can improve their teens new driving experience by identifying the vehicle the teen is driving with a “Rookie Driver” or a “New Driver” magnet. Simple to use, just place the magnet on the car when the teen is driving (along with the parent) and take the magnets off when the parents are driving.

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With successful completion of that six-month period, young drivers can receive restricted licenses.

As this summer gets into full swing, now is a good time for parents to sit their teenagers down for an important talk about safety and the rules that should accompany the privilege — and it is a privilege, not a right — of newfound four-wheeled freedom.

Teen Driver Safety Facts and Tips

Did you know:

  • Car crashes are the number one cause of teen deaths each year; more than drugs, violence or suicide.
  • According to national statistics car crashes account for more than 1 out of 3 teen deaths.
  • Drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are four more times likely than older drivers to crash.
  • Research shows that male teens are at 1.5 times more risk than their female counterparts.
  • At most risk are teen drivers with teen passengers and the risk increases with the number of teen passengers.
  • Most teen crashes are due to driver error caused by inexperience and distraction.
  • Crash risk is particularly high during the first 12 months that a teen is eligible to drive.
  • Compared to other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seatbelt use.
  • In 2005, 23% of drivers ages 15 – 20 who died in motor vehicle crashes had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 g/dl or higher.
  • In 2005, 54% of the teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
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    Teen Driver Safety Tips:

  • Know your teens passengers and encourage them to help your teen driver by reducing distractions and wearing seatbelts.
  • Know the rules; review your states new driver booklet with your teen driver. Look online for your local DMV materials.
  • Be a good role model for your teen driver and talk about driving safety strategies with your teen.
  • If you can afford it, definitely pay for extra driver training.
  • Emphasize the risks and inherent dangers of drinking or drugs and driving. Offer to always come and rescue with no consequences.
  • Select a safe car for your teen.
  • Ride periodically with your teen driver to keep tabs on progress and reinforce solid driving habits.
  • Driving is a privilege not a right; have your teen share in the costs of operating the vehicle to teach responsibility, which might translate into better driving skills.
  • References:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online].

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Dept. of Transportation (US). Traffic safety facts 2005: young drivers.

    Advice For New Drivers From Young Drivers

    Teens three times more likely to be in fatal auto accidents.

    There have been a number of crashes lately involving teenage drivers. Nebraska statistics indicate that teens are involved in three times more fatal auto accidents than other drivers.

    The scene always changes and we never know if there is danger around the next curve. It can be tough for experienced drivers and tougher yet on new drivers.

    “It takes a driver about five years to become a seasoned driver,” says Bill Mulherin with the Health and Safety Council.

    “The newer the driver, the less seasoned they are and the more susceptible they are to not recognizing hazards in time and becoming involved in collisions and this is something that develops over time and develops with practice.”

    “I got my license January 12th,” says Marian High School sophomore Jane Watsabaugh. She says it’s a big transition going from driving with her parents to driving alone.

    “You’re nervous and you want to make sure you leave enough space in front of you and other drivers and you want to drive slow and not speed or anything.”

    Fifteen-year-old Hannah Christensen won’t get her license until June. She’s driving a lot with her parents now and remembers her first time behind the wheel.

    “I was terrified. I was really scared because my dad took me on this narrow road and it kind of went through woods. It was really scary.”

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    She says the changing scene while driving can be a little intimidating. “There are a lot of different distractions when you are driving. I never thought of half of them.”

    “The classes you can take are great, but nothing can beat experience.” Marian High senior Ariel Talacko has been driving for a year-and-a-half and noticed a big difference in her driving in that short time.

    “I’m definitely more of a defensive driver. I make an observation about what I see from all directions, not just in front of me. I also check behind me and to the sides just so I can see what’s going on.”

    Good advice for young drivers from young drivers.

    So how can parents get a little peace of mind when their teen drivers take off in the family vehicle? Mulherin suggests a contract between parents and their teen drivers that helps monitor and reward good driving skills.

    The best thing parents can do to properly teach a young driver is to set the tone themselves.

    “Most of the time they slide into the same errors that their parents have because that’s who they’re modeling, so parents, if you want your kids to drive safer than you, you need to model that behavior when you are in the car with them,” says Mulherin.


    7 Suggestions for Safer Winter Driving

    Bad weather can seriously affect the roads we drive on. No matter what type of vehicle you drive, when the roads are covered in snow, slush, or ice, a different style of driving is required than when there are normal driving conditions. Using common sense and being completely prepared for whatever may come your way is a great way to go about becoming a safe winter driver.

    Here are seven suggestions to help develop your winter driving skills.

    1. Leave Extra Room When Stopping – When stopping your vehicle on roads covered in snow or ice, and yes even slush, there is sometimes a safer method to use than what you would do under normal conditions. If your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes, press the pedal down firmly and hold it in place. If your car did not come with anti-lock brakes, gently pump the brake pedal to gradually slow your speed without sliding. In both cases, if you leave extra room between you and the vehicle ahead of you, your odds of avoiding a collision increase greatly.

    2. Take Extra Care Driving Near Large Vehicles – Large vehicles like semi-trucks, delivery vans, and even snow plows are not as maneuverable in the snow as you may be. Avoid making sudden movements or cutting them off in traffic. With their extra weight it may take longer for them to stop unexpectedly.

    3. Leave Your Headlights On – There will be times it feels unnecessary, but this step isn’t for you as much as it is for other drivers. Between snow, fog, or other conditions, many times are vision is impaired while driving in winter. Having your headlights on may mean the difference between oncoming traffic seeing you and not seeing you.

    4. Stay Off Of Cruise Control – For normal driving conditions, cruise control is a great invention that has its uses. Those uses are not compatible with bad weather driving. With the cruise control feature on, your car could hit a patch of ice or slush and go out of control because the cruise control caused the accelorator to continue to be used.

    5. Pay Attention To What Is Going On Farther Up The Road – One of the biggest errors in all of driving, but especially dangerous in winter driving, is to only pay attention to the other vehicles and road situation right where your car is at the moment. By concentrating on what is happening farther up the road you can be ready for an obstacle that needs to be avoided, a slow moving vehicle that is entering the roadway, a disabled vehicle that is protruding into the driving lane, or any number of other things that can affect your ability to drive safely.

    6. Avoid Sudden Actions – When driving in bad weather conditions, avoid slamming on your brakes or making sudden sharp turns. These actions cause your tires to lose their traction and turn you over to the mercy of the ice and slush as your car slides out of control.

    7. Slow Down For Congested Areas And Other Trouble Spots – Most collisions and traffic accidents occur where there are intersections, bridges, off ramps, and shaded areas. Recognizing that these conditions are ahead of you and slowing down before you get there can go a long way in keeping you safe during the winter driving season.

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    Combining common sense with sensible winter driving techniques should get you through the bad weather driving season unscathed. The number one thing you can do to insure the safety of you, your passengers, other travelers, and your car is to be prepared for what is out there on the roadway before you actually get there. Safe winter driving skills can be learned and put into action quite easily, there is no reason you or anyone else cannot be a safer driver during bad weather.


    Winter Driving Techniques Part 3 – Steering In Bad Weather

    Snowy or icy surfaces make steering difficult and require smooth, careful, precise movements of the steering wheel. Skidding in which the front or rear moves laterally is caused by hard acceleration or braking, speeds too fast for conditions, and quick jerky movements of the steering wheel.

    You may need to take evasive action to avoid a collision. Steering is preferred to braking at speeds above 25 mph because less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop. In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of control.

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    Emergency steering methods:

    1. The push-pull-slide method of steering is performed by shuffling your hands so that neither hand crosses over the imaginary line between 12 and 6 o’clock. Since the arms never cross, you are able to provide continuous adjustments in either direction.

    2. The fixed-hand steering method allows rapid 180-degree steering to either direction, but it has one
    shortcoming. This method is confining in that your arms may get locked together as you attempt to steer past 180 degrees, leaving you in an awkward position to make further fine adjustments.


    Winter Driving Techniques Part 2 – Following In Bad Weather

    Normal following distances for dry pavement (three to four seconds) should be increased to eight to 10 seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.

    On a four-lane highway, stay in the lane that has been cleared most recently. Avoid changing lanes because of potential control loss when driving over built-up snow between lanes.

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    Remember: traction is greatest just before the wheels spin. Gentle pressure on the accelerator pedal when starting is the best method for retaining traction and voiding skids — especially if your vehicle is not equipped with traction-assist technology. If your wheels start to spin, let up on the accelerator until traction returns.  Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery (wet, ice, sand) surface.

    Once underway, keep going. When approaching a hill, observe how other vehicles are reacting and keep far enough behind the vehicle immediately ahead so that you will not have to slow down or stop. This will allow you to maneuver around any stuck vehicles and to increase your speed (within reason) at or near the bottom of the hill to give you the extra momentum to carry you over the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down the hill as slowly as possible.

    Minimize brake use on very slippery, icy hills; if further speed reduction is needed, gentle, slow brake application (squeeze braking) is recommended to avoid loss of control.