Teen Driving Tips
Teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes than adult drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2276 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver in 2020, making motor vehicle crashes the second leading cause of death for U.S. teens. To help teens learn how to drive in a structured and safe way, every state has a graduated driver licensing system (GDL), which dictates at what age you can begin learning to drive, how many hours of learning you need, during what hours you are allowed to drive once you are licensed, and other related licensing provisions.
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3 Best Driving Tips for Teens
You’ve done the work, passed the test, and gotten your driver’s license. But there are a few more things you need to be aware of to stay safe on the road. Here are some tips to help make sure you arrive at your destination safe and sound.
1. Don’t Be Distracted
According to the NHTSA, 3142 people died in 2020 as a result of distracted driving, and teenagers are more easily distracted behind the wheel simply due to their lack of experience. One of the main ways teens get distracted while driving is by using their cell phones. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute found that 39% of high school students admitted to texting or emailing while driving during the past month even though the majority of them recognized this behavior as unsafe. How unsafe is it exactly? The NHTSA determined that texting while driving increases your risk of crashing by 23 times.
Texting while driving is a bad habit, but it’s one you can easily break. You can try:
- Putting your phone out of reach
- Using an app that tracks your phone usage while driving or even prevents you from texting
- Making a pledge with family members to not use your phone while driving. Here’s a great example of a parent-teen driving contract from the CDC.
Parents, the no texting while driving rule goes for you too. You have to lead by example. You also have to make sure there are consequences if your teen continues to text and drive.
And don’t forget that texting while driving isn’t the only distracted driving behavior. You can also be distracted by eating, changing the radio, or using your GPS. If you need to do anything that will take your attention off the road, it’s best if you pull over for a minute and resume driving once you’re done.
2. Follow the Speed Limit
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that between 2015 and 2019, 4,930 teen drivers and passengers died as a result of car crashes due to speeding. When it comes to speeding, most teenagers do not consider anything up to 10 mph over the speed limit to be speeding, but every mile per hour faster that you drive increases both your braking distance and reaction time.
The GHSA also determined that teenagers who speed are more likely to be male, not have a seatbelt on, and have multiple passengers in the car. Alternatively, teens who are monitored closely and drive a shared vehicle are less likely to speed. Parents can do a few things to help curtail teen speeding, including:
- Install an app on teen’s phones that monitors speed
- Forgo buying a new car for a teenager in favor of sharing the family car
- Limit the number of passengers allowed in your teen’s car per the GDL or your own guidelines
And the pledge teens make to not text and drive can be expanded to include other behaviors like speeding.
3. Don’t Drive While Impaired
As far as teenagers go, any drinking is illegal, but drivers under the age of 21 account for 17% of fatal alcohol-related crashes, according to the NHTSA. These statistics don’t include the increasing numbers of people driving impaired under the use of illegal, prescription, and even over-the-counter drugs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that 13% of weekend drivers have marijuana in their system, and marijuana users were 25% more likely to get in a crash than non-marijuana users.
But car accidents aren’t the only repercussion of impaired driving. You also face jail time, fines, losing your license, and potential academic penalties like loss of scholarships or removal from sports teams.
Just like taking steps to prevent distracted driving and speeding, there are steps you can take to prevent impaired driving. One of the most important things parents and teens can do is communicate. Discuss the dangers of impaired driving and stress the importance of staying sober behind the wheel. Offer alternative ways home such as calling a relative or getting an Uber. Encourage them to prevent others from driving under the influence. Make sure there’s a section on your teen-parent driving pledge about impaired driving.
Teen Driving Can be Safe with Life360
Turning 16 and getting your driver’s license is a rite of passage. But getting behind the wheel of a car is not something that should be taken lightly. With the proper instruction, lots of practice, and careful obedience of the law and any additional rules agreed upon by you and your parents, you’re sure to be the safest teen driver on the road.
With Driving Safety features like Individual Driver Reports that let you see things like top speed and texting while driving, Life360 helps you make sure your teen driver is staying safe on the road.
That’s why Life360 is trusted by more than 25 million members worldwide.