Car Safety Guide for Teens

As a teen, getting a driver's license is one of the most exciting and anticipated times of one's life. Unfortunately, this is also one of the most dangerous times of one's teen years. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of teenage deaths in the U.S. is car crashes. Although this can be scary news, it shouldn't turn teens off of the idea of getting behind the wheel of a car. Instead, teens should use this knowledge to learn and practice driving safety techniques. Listening to and following safety advice from the time a person learns to drive will not only make him or her a better driver, but may also be a life saver.

Distracted Driving

  • Distractions that are manual, cognitive, and visual are the three primary types of distraction when it comes to driving.
  • Cognitive distractions are distractions that take a person's mind off of the task of driving.
  • Manual distractions cause people to take their hands off of the steering wheel to text, change the radio, etc.
  • When a person looks away from the road it is called a visual distraction.
  • states that sixteen percent of crashes are the result of distracted driving involving drivers who are younger than 20 years old.
  • Driving while talking on one's cellphone is as dangerous driving while intoxicated.
  • Laws regarding distracted driving vary from state to state.
  • Talking on the cellphone or with passengers, texting, and eating are all forms of distraction.
  • Texting is considered the most alarming type of distraction because it demands one's manual, visual, and cognitive attention.
  • The risk of teens getting in a crash due to distraction increases per the number of passengers in the vehicle.

Driving Under the Influence

  • According to 2011 statistics taken by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were more than a million teens who drove after consuming alcohol.
  • Drinking, buying, and possessing alcohol is illegal for minors, even when they are not behind the wheels of a car.
  • All states and the District of Columbia have adopted zero tolerance laws for all drivers under 21 years old who have any measurable amount of alcohol in their systems.
  • The body takes at minimum one hour to rid the circulatory system of the alcohol from one drink.
  • There are no remedies that will remove alcohol or drugs from the system or make it safe to drive intoxicated or under the influence.
  • A person is impaired from the first alcoholic drink and should not drive.
  • Teens who are sober should not get in the car with intoxicated friends and should not allow him or her to drive.

Staying Safe in Bad Weather

  • During severe storms avoid driving whenever possible.
  • During bad weather, drivers should go slower and allow themselves more time to reach their destination.
  • During bad weather conditions visibility is often lower and headlights must be used, even during daytime hours.
  • Cars take longer to stop on roads that are slippery, and as a result there should be greater distance left between cars.
  • Keeping both hands on the steering wheel will give the driver greater control.
  • Before the rainy season or snowy season begins, teen drivers and/or their parents should check the tread on car tires for wear.
  • Overly worn or bald tires cannot grip the road and can cause accidents.
  • In foggy weather using high-beams will reduce, not improve, visibility.
  • Teens should keep a turned off, but charged cellphone available when driving in bad weather in case the car becomes stuck or the driver is stranded.

Defensive Driving

  • Defensive driving is when a person drives in a manner that allows him or her to not only react safely to hazards, but also anticipate them.
  • Defensive driving teaches drivers skills regarding how to control their vehicles during an emergency.
  • Defensive drivers are always aware of the cars around them and what they are doing.
  • Planning a travel route before getting on the road is a part of driving defensively.
  • Drivers should also always have an escape or alternate route in the event of an accident.
  • Distractions are detrimental to defensive driving.
  • Specialty courses can be taken to teach teens and adult drivers how to drive defensively.
  • When driving, assuming that other drivers are less skilled will make people more alert and cautious.

General Car and Driving Safety Tips

  • Whenever a person is driving in a car, either as the driver or passenger, he or she should put on a seatbelt.
  • Teens should avoid getting behind the wheel of a car if he or she is tired or ill.
  • Teens should limit nighttime driving until they gain more experience behind the wheel as more car crash deaths occur after 9p.m. up until 6a.m.
  • Routine car maintenance is also important in terms of safety for the driver and passenger.
  • Speeding is often a problem for teens, and raises the risk of an accident, injury and/or death.
  • Parents can also help their teens be better drivers by leading by example and practicing safe driving techniques as well.
  • It is important to always follow all of the rules of the road, such as using turn signals when changing lanes, even if they seem inconvenient.
  • Don't follow too closely behind cars even during clear weather, as tailgating increases the chances of rear-ending a vehicle.

Additional Resources

  • On the Road - Driving Tips: A list of general driving tips that are divided into categories. Categories include driving around school and basic rules such as obeying speed limits and buckling up.
  • Teen Driver: Fact Sheet: This CDC fact sheet lists the risks associated with teen driving and provides statistics. The graduated drivers licensing is also briefly discussed on this page.
  • General Safety Tips for Drivers: This safety tips page is designed with teens in mind and discusses seat belt safety, driving in construction zones and the risks of driving as a teen.
  • Distracted Driving - Frequently Asked Questions: A page of frequently asked questions on the website. The questions are all related to driving while distracted.
  • Safety Tips for Teenage Drivers: These safety tips for teenage drivers are directed toward parents and how they can help teens become safer drivers. A parent-teen driving agreement is discussed in the article.
  • Driving Safety Tips for Teenagers with Diabetes: A numbered list of safety tips for diabetic teens who are driving. This PDF document addresses what teens should do if their blood sugar drops while they are driving.
  • General Road Safety Advice: Global road safety is the topic of discussion on a majority of this page. Readers are given universal driving safety tips.
  • Safety Tips for Teen Drivers: Eight safety tips for teenage drivers of all skill levels are listed on this web page.
  • Six Safe-Driving Tips for Teens: Women's Day magazine offers a numbered list of tips that parents can use to help their teen drivers stay safe while driving.
  • Driving Safety - The Keys to Defensive Driving: An article on the TeensHealth website that discusses defensive driving. In this article readers will find information about the skills needed to drive defensively and also secrets to being a great driver.
  • Tips for Teen Drivers: A PDF document that gives the reader statistics on teen driving followed by tips for accident prevention, such as driving sober.
  • Teenage Driving Tips: A list of in-depth driving tips that are meant to help keep drivers safe. Tips range from not texting while driving to watching out for animals such as deer.
  • Distracted, Drunk & Drugged Driving: A page that reviews drinking and driving and laws associated with it. Visitors will also read about the dangers of distracted driving.
  • Awake at the Wheel: A PDF document that addresses driving while tired.
  • Teens and Cars: Tips for Teen Driving Safety: Clicking on this link will open up a PDF document that includes a long list of safety tips for driving teens.
  • Underage Drinking and Driving - A Parent and Teen Guide: This is a PDF guide with information about the risks of driving and drinking. The guide provides useful information for both teens and their parents.
  • Young Drivers: A majority of this page focuses on driving while distracted by cell phones and while sending and receiving text messages. Further down the page readers will find tips for teens and safe driving tips for parents as well.
  • Defensive Driving Techniques for All Drivers: The website for the California Department of Motor Vehicles lists and explains defensive driving techniques that are useful for drivers of all ages and experience levels.
  • Bad Weather Driving: Click on this link to visit the Wake Forest Baptist Health Brenner Children's Hospital website. Visitors to this page on the site can read about how to drive safely in bad weather.
  • Bad Weather Driving Tips for Teens: This list of bad weather driving tips is broken down by weather conditions. People reading this page are also given a list of basic tips for driving in winter weather.

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