Parenting

5 Lesser Known Safe Driving Habits Your Teenager Should Follow

4:10 PM


One of the scariest moments in a parent’s life is watching a child get behind the wheel of a car. The statistics are sobering. The CDC lists motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of death for American teenagers. Driver inexperience is repeatedly cited as the causative factor in fatal crashes. Every parent stresses common safe driving habits to their teenagers – belt up, don’t drink and drive, stay within the speed limit, and no texting while driving. Here are 5 lesser known safe driving habits your teenager should follow:

Keep a safe distance
Rear-end collisions are the most common type of motor vehicle crash, accounting for nearly one-third of all accidents. Teach your teenager to keep a safe distance from the car in front. This allows more reaction time to slow down and pick an escape route should the vehicle in front stops suddenly. It’s especially tempting to tailgate when in a hurry. But keeping a few extra seconds of trailing space is a good habit for young drivers to develop. It will buy a lifetime of protection against rear-ending someone.

No extra passengers
The NHTSA in its 5-to-Drive campaign lists “no extra passengers” as a critical driving practice that parents must discuss with their teenager. Studies have found that peer pressure is one of the key contributing factors in teenage motor vehicle crash deaths. The likelihood of risky driving behavior increases to by up to three times when the driver has one or more teenage passengers. As a rule, don’t permit your teenager to drive with friends in the car until they’re more confident drivers with a couple of years’ experience on the road under their belt.

Hands on the wheel
Experts agree that keeping the hands at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions on the steering wheel of the car affords the maximum vehicle control. Teenagers are lazy creatures and apt to drive with both hands resting at the bottom of the wheel or one hand at 12 o’clock, or worst of all, one hand off the wheel. In the event that the driver needs to quickly maneuver the car, the hands need to be in this optimum position to avoid a potential car crash.

Pick the right lane
On multi-lane roads, the center and slow lanes allow the driver more escape room should problems arise. Most highway accidents occur in the fast lane. By driving in the center or slow lane, your teenager will have a better chance of quickly changing lanes or pulling off onto the shoulder. Repeatedly switching lanes is a risky driving habit. The correct use of lanes will go a long way in keeping your teenage driver safe.

Scan the road

Traffic hazards come in many shapes and sizes. A small child could run out from behind a blind spot. A red-light runner could cross an intersection seconds after the light turns. Teach your teenager to scan at least 10-15 seconds into the area where they’ll be driving. Slow down in residential neighborhoods and near schools. Be especially careful when passing an 18-wheeler.

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