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.
  • Are You Worried Now That Your Teen Is Driving? “When it comes to ‘New-Driver’ and ‘Student Driver’ car magnets, Rookie Driver products are the Preferred Choice of New Teen Drivers”

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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.


    Winter Driving Techniques Part 1

    With winter arriving quickly – we will post a 5 part Winter Driving Techniques series for teen drivers and their parents. Below is Part 1 – please read and share with your teen and their friends.

    Getting underway
    To see and be seen by others requires the driver to
    clean all snow and ice from the entire vehicle — hood,
    roof, trunk, lights and windows. Snow left on any of
    these areas increases the possibility that visibility will
    be affected when the vehicle is in motion. Before
    departing, start your vehicle and turn the heater on for
    a minute or two before using the defroster. This will
    prevent moisture from fogging the windshield when
    warm air hits the cold glass.

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    Try to avoid driving when visibility is poor, but if you
    must drive, keep your speed low, and your headlights
    on low beam. If conditions worsen, pull off to a safe
    spot as soon as possible.

    Clear a path in front of the wheels for several feet. This
    can be accomplished by driving forward and backward
    in the parking space, or if the snow is too deep, some
    additional shoveling may be required.

    With the front wheels pointed straight to minimize
    rolling resistance, shift to drive (use second gear for
    manual transmissions) and with gentle pressure of the
    accelerator, try to ease out of the parking space without
    spinning the wheels. If you let the wheels spin, you will
    only dig deeper into the snow.

    When more traction is needed, use traction mats or
    spread some sand, salt or any handy abrasive material
    in front of and in back of the drive wheels. When using
    devices under the wheels for additional traction, or
    when wheels are digging into dirt or gravel and you are
    receiving pushing assistance, do not let anyone stand
    directly ahead or behind the drive wheels as they
    may be injured by objects thrown by the spinning tires.

    Stop if the wheels continue to spin and create a deeper
    rut, and consider attempting to rock the vehicle out of
    the rut. To rock a vehicle, start slowly in low gear (use
    second gear for manual transmission vehicle). When the
    vehicle will go no farther forward, release the
    accelerator to permit the car to roll back. When the
    vehicle stops its backward motion, apply minimum
    pressure on the accelerator again.

    Repeat these actions in rapid succession. Each rock
    should move the vehicle a little farther forward or back
    of the hole you are in. When you rock, you must use
    minimum power to help prevent the wheels from
    spinning and digging in deeper. Check the owner’s
    manual for the recommended procedure.



    A 36 year old female had an accident several weeks ago and totaled her car. It was raining, though not excessively, when her car suddenly began to hydro-plane and literally flew through the air.

    She was not seriously injured but very stunned at the sudden occurrence! When she explained to the highway patrolman what had happened he told her something that every driver should know –

    She thought she was being cautious by setting the cruise control and maintaining a safe consistent speed in the rain. But the highway patrolman told her that if the cruise control is on when your car
    begins to hydro-plane and your tires lose contact with the pavement, your car will accelerate to a higher rate of speed making you take off like an airplane. She told the patrolman that was exactly
    what had occurred.

    The patrolman said this warning should be listed on the driver’s seat sun-visor – NEVER USE THE CRUISE CONTROL WHEN THE PAVEMENT IS WET OR ICY, along with the airbag warning.

    We tell our teenagers to set the cruise control and drive a safe speed – but we don’t tell them to use the cruise control only when the pavement is dry.

    NOTE: Some vehicles (like the Toyota Sienna Limited XLE) will not allow you to set the cruise control when the windshield wipers are on.

    Please share this information with everyone you can!

    Teen Driving Safety: A National Priority

    In the United States, motor vehicle fatalities are the leading cause of death among those ages fifteen to twenty. Approximately 4,000 teens died and 300,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2006. Even though they drive less than other age groups, mile for mile, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.

    Teens driving on rural roads face a greater challenge. Even though rural roads carry less than half of America’s traffic, they are home to over half of the nation’s vehicular deaths. Worse, the fatality rate for rural crashes is more than twice the fatality rate in urban crashes. For teens, the mix of speeding, not wearing a seat belt, driving while distracted (on cell phones or with other teens in the car), driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, and driving inexperience, often times has a deadly consequence.

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    As part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rural Safety Initiative, we have partnered with National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) to develop a new generation of advertising and educational materials to encourage teenagers to drive safely. To do that, we called on the one group in America that actually understands how to talk to teenagers and knows how to get them to do something different….other teenagers.

    Last month, I invited six extraordinary teenagers living in rural areas around the U.S. to exchange ideas on new ways to communicate with teens about safer driving by teens. Their enthusiasm and passion for advocating traffic safety issues was clearly apparent. We discussed why teens were not using seat belts each and every time they are in a car, ways to prohibit retailers from selling alcohol to minors, how to better target teen drivers through media and communication campaigns, why teens do not perceive distracted driving (such as text messaging while driving) as a dangerous and also what can be done to better prepare teens through driver education to drive on rural roads which are often gravel instead of paved.

    Hearing their personal experiences with traffic safety in rural communities and why they are so passionate about the issue was inspiring. I have asked them to share these experiences and their thoughts on the best way to educate other teenagers on traffic safety issues:

    Jason WesterheideFamily, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Minster, Ohio

    Today was an awesome experience for us: six youths, coming together with a Deputy Secretary and passionate traffic safety activist, to collaborate and highlight the underlying traffic safety issues that are not being discussed. Hopefully we can move forward after today to stimulate the youth, to convince the adults, and empower everyone to take positive actions for traffic safety with both youth and adults! Through education, communication, and collaboration, we will make a difference in the lives of many Americans to come.

    Eric Dixon– Technology Student Association (TSA), Knoxville, Tennessee

    Communication is the key to solving rural traffic problems. This communication needs to be youth-to-youth in order for the youth of our nation to accept these traffic safety issues into their lives and to remember them when the time comes. We are tired of hearing stories and receiving commands from adults twenty years our senior. We want to hear from responsible youth our age, and we want to know we are not alone in our efforts for traffic safety.

    Whitley Shae Hill– Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Grayson, Kentucky

    I hope that our focus today on the issues and the explanations of why they are issues will create awareness, as well as legislation to prevent rural traffic fatalities. In an effort to eliminate preventable traffic incidents we must raise awareness to youth, as well as adults across the nation about the impact these collisions have on lives, families, and communities. We must also pioneer for future generations the ability to step outside our “normal” boundaries to advocate for safer, more productive roads.

    Kristi RuthFarm Safety 4 Just Kids, Chariton, Iowa

    I believe that rural traffic safety is a very important issue. This is something that affects millions of people across the U.S. Coming from a very rural area, I understand the importance of being able to drive on safe rural roads. I have had many close calls that could have had a deadly outcome. Thousands of teenagers lose their life every year due to traffic incidents. Teens need to know they are not alone in standing up for traffic safety.

    Elise Strahan Youth Crime Watch American and (YCW) and National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS), Hubert Heights, Ohio

    Having the honor to speak to Deputy Secretary Barrett gave me a chance to voice my views on teens and traffic safety today. I hope that America’s leaders today can better relate to the leaders of tomorrow through education and communication.

    Jacob Holm– Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), Valley City, North Dakota

    It was an honor being involved in the discussion with Deputy Secretary Barrett. This is a prime example of how teens can become involved in traffic safety issues. When youth get together with a common voice we have the opportunity to truly make a difference. I challenge you all to let your passion flow and make a difference in our world. We are the generation that will make a difference in policy and social norms. If we band together we will make a difference. Just remember that standing up for what you believe in is never uncool or nerdy. It takes a lot of strength to do what is right so I applaud you for taking the first step in the right direction. Always remember that you are never alone in doing the safe and right thing.


    Source:  Deputy Secretary Barrett:  Welcome to the fast lane – the official blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation