As a teen driver, there is little that is more exciting than the freedom your driver’s license can bring. As a parent, there is little that is more nerve-wracking. You may be working hard to prepare your teen to be safe on the road, but it can be a challenge to address every issue. Here are 5 of the most common mistakes teen drivers make on the road.
When you’re an inexperienced driver, it can be difficult to judge your speed and stopping distance. It takes time to learn to interpret different situations on the road, but unfortunately, driving is a trial by fire. Driving too fast will prevent you from having time to react appropriately and can lead to serious crashes. Slowing down is important since a speeding ticket is no fun, but an accident can be deadly.
Teach your teen to always obey the posted speed limit, even when the flow of traffic is faster. There is nothing embarrassing about staying in the right lane and driving at a comfortable speed, even if the rest of traffic is whizzing past. It is likely that the drivers around your teen are more experienced, but they also may be taking unnecessary risks.
2. Becoming Distracted
Driving takes a lot of concentration, even for seasoned drivers. But cell phones, eating while driving, learning to navigate, and your friends in the passenger seat can be a huge distraction. Even sending one text can take your attention off the road for long enough to cause a serious accident. At 55 miles per hour, it will take you less than 5 seconds to drive the length of a football field.
Distractions can cause you to lose the ability to:
- Scan the road effectively for hazards
- Locate potential dangers early
- React to situations and take corrective action
As a parent, you can take steps to reduce distractions for your teen. Require that they turn off their cell phone while driving. Limit the number of passengers they can carry, as well as the age of the passengers. Talk to them about the importance of keeping their full attention on the road.
3. Taking Unnecessary Risks
Even older drivers are guilty of this, but risky behavior behind the wheel can only increase your chances of an accident. Unnecessary risks may include:
- Speeding through a yellow traffic light
- Not using your turn signal
- Speeding excessively
- Failing to check your blind spots
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while tired
- Driving while distracted
- Failing to stop completely at a stop sign
Practice good driving habits when driving with your teen. They often learn by example, so you should be on your best behavior when behind the wheel. You can also point out the risky behaviors of other drivers.
4. Failing to Maintain Space Between Cars
Like speeding, it can be difficult to tell how close you are to the car in front of you, and if you’ll be able to safely stop. A good rule of thumb is to watch the car ahead of you pass a stationary object beside the road, then count the number of seconds it takes you to pass it as well. If this time is less than 3 seconds, slow down and allow more space.
Parents can help teen drivers to practice the three-second rule, and can provide gentle reminders when a teen driver starts to close the gap too much.
5. Not Wearing a Seatbelt
This is an unnecessary risk. There are a lot of myths about seatbelts, but the truth is—seatbelts save lives. If you are in an accident, a seatbelt prevents you from being ejected or thrown out of your seat. The fatality rates for drivers and passengers who don’t wear a seatbelt is far higher than it is for those who do. Not only can it save you, it is illegal to drive without one.
As a parent, always insist that your teen buckles up, even if they aren’t driving. Never drive without your seatbelt, or allow any passenger to ride without a seatbelt.
As a parent, you may do everything you can to help your child stay safe on the road. Unfortunately, your teen may still be involved in an accident by unsafe drivers. If your teen driver has been injured in an accident, our Charleston car accident attorneys are here to help. At Pierce, Herns, Sloan & Wilson, LLC, we are dedicated to helping families recover from auto accidents and we will ensure that you receive experienced, effective legal counsel throughout your claim.
Contact our offices to schedule a free consultation with our team. Call (843) 968-0886 today.