The freedom that comes with getting your driver’s license is exhilarating. You’ve taken all the right tests, logged hours behind the wheel, and finally had your photo taken for your license. But as a teen driver, you’re a little more at risk than most other drivers. In 2011 alone, teen drivers had crash rates three times those of drivers 20 and older.
Once you’ve finally gotten your license, the last thing you want is a speeding ticket, a fender bender, or even a totaled car. Stay safe on the road by checking out these teen driving safety tips.
It’s not always enough to obey the rules of the road. You have to watch out for the actions of other drivers, too. Even if you're the most cautious driver in the world, the driver two lanes over may still try to cut into the lane you’re about to get into, having not seen your turn signal. Be mindful of other drivers while you’re on the road. For example, when you stop at a light or are in heavy traffic, do it slowly so the driver behind you has time to stop, too; always check your blind spots and mirrors before you merge; and always use your turn signals, even if you think no one is around. Playing it safe could keep you and your car out of danger.
Don’t Drive Distracted
Distracted driving is a big problem for teens, especially when cell phones are involved. A study by the NHTSA found that for drivers 15-19 years old who were involved in fatal crashes, 21% of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of a cell phone. Distracted driving (which can include activities like eating, talking on the phone, texting, and looking up directions) takes your eyes and mind away from the road, leaving you unable to react as quickly as you need to. The six seconds it takes to type a short text could be the difference between a smooth ride and a bad accident. If you get a text or a call, or something else happens that could take your attention from the road, ask yourself: Can this wait? Is this something I can pull over and do? If you don’t feel safe, don’t do it.
Know the Laws
Avoid being pulled over by remembering to renew your registration and always keeping your auto insurance up-to-date. You should also find out if your state has any special laws, like a “move over law” that dictates your behavior if an emergency vehicle is on the road.
Get the Right Auto Insurance
The right car insurance offers a whole different kind of safety. With good insurance, if anything does happen to you or your car, you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get back on the road. Non-standard auto insurance can be a great starting point for young drivers, as it often applies to drivers who fall in the “high-risk” category.
Remember, There’s a Learning Curve
Once you start driving by yourself regularly, give yourself some time to adjust. Most teen accidents occur within the first few months behind the wheel. It doesn’t mean that teens are all bad drivers; it just means they’re new at it. Over time you’ll get a better feel for where a car’s blind spots are, how quickly it turns, how sensitive the brakes are, etc. In the meantime, keep an eye on your speedometer, pay attention to road signs, and watch out for other drivers.