School is officially back in session, and over the next few months there will be a lot of new drivers on the road. Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. Before your teen takes off behind the wheel for the first time, make sure they know these safe driving tips for new drivers.
Practice driving, even after you get your license.
Passing a driving test isn’t always easy, and requires plenty of practice beforehand (with an adult passenger, of course). To prepare your teen for the reality of the road, keep practicing even after they get their license. Make sure they are familiar with any family vehicle they will be using, the rules of the road in different scenarios and how to keep an eye out on what other drivers are doing.
These lessons can instill safe driving habits and help prepare them for the day someone stops suddenly, makes an illegal turn, or runs a stop sign.
Put the cell phone away.
Cell phones are everywhere, but when teens are behind the wheel, cell phones belong safely stowed in a bag or purse. Or somewhere they won’t see or hear or see it. Why? Because people, especially teens, are accustomed to looking at their phones instantly when it beeps, chimes or whistles an incoming text or notification. It’s only a few seconds, right? Everything on the road can change in the five seconds it takes your teen to look at a text.
Tell your teen to keep their phone in the car with them, but out of hand’s reach — in a bookbag, purse, or glove box, so they have it in case of an emergency. Bonus tip: Institute this practice for yourself and you will be setting a good example for your new driver.
Limit passengers to limit distractions.
While Florida doesn’t restrict the number of passengers that can accompany a new driver, it is still a good idea to make rules for your teen driver that do limit the number of passengers to one or two. Friends are fun to hang out with, but may provide additional distraction that can lead to car accidents. In fact, the CDC notes that the more passengers there are, the higher the risk of traffic accidents.
Always wear a seat belt. Always.
Of the teens who died as a result of a car crash, the CDC reports that around 48 percent were not wearing a seat belt. Seat belts can reduce the chances of injuries and fatalities in car accidents by about half when used. Again, make sure that you set the example by waiting to start your own car until everyone has their seat belt buckled.
With these safe driving tips in mind, your teen will be better prepared to hit the road, and you will feel better as a parent seeing your child get behind the wheel.