Teens behind the wheel can make any parent nervous, not to mention other drivers on the road. “There are a number of factors that lead to an increase in accidents for teen drivers, including inexperience, dealing with emergency situations, distracted driving and the inclination to show off for friends,” said Gary Tsifrin, founder of DriversEd.com, a leading drivers education resource and solution.
DriversEd.com, in conjunction with Cars.com, recently identified for us the ten most common mistakes teen drivers make:
Cell phones, CDs, food, passenger interactions, and text messaging can pose serious distractions. In some cases, drivers will even text message their backseat passengers. Distracted driving contributes to 80 percent of collisions.
Actions like speeding, ignoring traffic signals or school zone signs, and changing lanes without checking blind spots are all considered “risky behavior.” The difference between risky behavior and distracted driving is that risky behavior is deliberate, while distracted driving is often the result of ignorance.
Most drivers occasionally speed, but teens do so because they don’t have a good sense of how a car’s speed can affect their response time. On average, teens drive faster than all other drivers. They will exceed speeds on residential roads that they interpret as empty because they haven’t had any close calls there.
Overcrowding the car.
Teens frequently overcrowd their cars, cramming five or six into a cabin meant to seat four or five. Worse yet, the extra passengers often result in teens driving more aggressively. The distractions of carrying too many passengers also can have serious consequences.
Driving under the influence.
When teens drink and drive, they’re even less likely to practice safe habits like seat belt usage: Of the 15- to 20-year-olds killed after drinking and driving in 2003, 74 percent were unrestrained, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Because teenagers are too young to drink legally, they’re also less likely to call parents to get them when they shouldn’t drive.
Following too closely.
Maintaining a proper following distance is a critical step in preventing accidents. At 60 mph, a typical car needs between 120 and 140 feet to reach a full stop. Most SUVs require an extra five to 10 feet on top of that. Consider that 60 mph translates to 88 feet per second and it’s easy to see why maintaining proper following distance is critical in preventing accidents.
Approximately 21 percent of young drivers do not wear their seat belts regularly. Many young drivers have a sense of invincibility that also factors into teen speeding. Fortunately, many cars today have seat belt reminders that flash warning lights or chime until belts are secured. Call them annoying, but they help keep occupants buckled.
Bad at handling emergencies.
Knowing how to avoid an accident comes with driving experience. Young drivers can only learn so much in the classroom, which leaves learning maneuvers like straightening out a skid or how to apply the brakes correctly to real-world experience. Speeding and distracted driving only make things worse.
Drowsy driving affects an unlikely group: the so-called “good kids.” That means straight-A students or those with a full plate of extracurricular activities. Overachievers have a lot of pressure and often don’t think, “I’m too tired to drive.”
Choosing the wrong car and not maintaining it.
Too often, a combination of tight budgets and high style leads teens to pass up important safety features for larger engines and flashy accessories. A teen or novice driver will opt for a cool-looking sports car rather than a safer choice. Then, if they sink all their money into it, they might be remiss in maintaining it.
With all this in mind, Cars.com has listed several new-car recommendations for teen drivers based on a variety of criteria, including safety, price and size.
Some Important Questions
› Have you taught your teen how to change a flat tire and when it is not safe to attempt changing it? (Remember AAA is only as good as cell phone reception).
› Do they have a First aid kit (including an assortment of bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic cream, instant ice and heat compresses, scissors and aspirin).
› Do they have a roadside emergency kit and have you taught them how to use it? Some of the basic items include:
- 12-foot jumper cables
- Four 15-minute roadside flares
- Two quarts of oil
- Gallon of antifreeze
- Extra fuses
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Flat head screwdrivers
- Phillips head screwdrivers
- Vise Grips
- Adjustable wrench
- Tire inflator (such as a Fix-A-Flat)
- Tire pressure gauge
- Roll of paper towels
- Roll of duct tape
- Spray bottle with washer fluid
- Ice scraper
- Pen and paper
- Help sign
- Granola or energy bars
- Bottled water#
Courtesy of StatePoint & SPM Wire