Young adults gain independence through a series of milestones throughout their youth. But few such milestones are more anxiously anticipated than the day when teenagers earn their drivers’ licenses.
For teenagers, licenses mean the difference between being at the mercy of adults for transportation and being able to set off on their own. Even though a license to drive indicates a teen has passed the written and road tests necessary to drive without adults present, newly minted drivers may still not be ready to drive without supervision. In fact, statistics indicate that teenagers may benefit from a little extra instruction and guidance before they’re given the keys to the family car.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among American teens. The highest per-driver and per-distance fatality rates are found among drivers between the ages of 16 and 19. According to Geico, one in five 16-year-old drivers has an accident in their first year of driving.
Teenagers who want to drive and stay safe on the road can employ these safety tips.
• Keep an open attitude. Consider increasing road time under the instruction of an adult and learn from their guidance. Ask for help if there is a driving skill you haven’t mastered, such as merging onto a busy highway or parallel parking.
• Limit other teen passengers. The CDC reports the presence of teen passengers increases unsupervised teen drivers’ crash risk. Until a teen is secure behind the wheel, he or she should avoid the temptation to give friends a ride.
• Stick to daylight driving. Geico reports the risk of a fatal crash is three times greater at night for every mile driven. Reduced visibility and reaction time can contribute to crashes. Teens should gain ample experience driving during daytime hours and make sure they are comfortable behind the wheel before setting out at night.
• Practice in all conditions. Safe driving involves making smart decisions even when driving conditions are poor. With an adult in the passenger seat, practice driving in inclement weather.
• Turn your phone off. Smartphones put all motorists at risk of accident.
• Slow down. Speed is a common factor in automotive crashes involving teens.
• Drive unimpaired. No driver should take drugs or consume alcohol.