Learning to drive is an important part of growing up, but the risks of operating vehicles are undeniable. Teens get in more accidents than other drivers, but there are things that you can do to lower the chances of it happening to you.
Drive with Trusted Adults
Remember that being an inexperienced driver carries an inherent level of risk. It makes complete sense for you not to know how to properly judge certain driving situations or handle intense weather conditions as a new driver because you’re still building up the experience you need to make those judgment calls. Risk as a result of inexperience doesn’t mean that you’re adapting poorly to your new status as a driver, but it does mean that you should take advantage of help from more experienced drivers. You can reduce your risk by driving with a trusted adult who has numerous years of experience as a driver. Backseat driving might seem annoying, but it can be a literal lifesaver when you’re just starting out on the road.
Don’t Drive Distracted
Another major culprit for teen car accidents is the tendency to drive while distracted. Distracted driving severely compromises your ability to watch out for hazards on the road, slowing your reaction time and putting you at a much higher risk for accidents. Common driving distractions include texting or chatting on the phone, eating or fiddling with music settings. Even boisterous friends can compromise your ability to drive safely. Avoid these distractions by selecting your preferred music and eating in the parking lot before you start driving, and always set your phone aside. Set your phone to airplane mode or silent if you can’t resist the urge to check incoming notifications. Make sure that you only drive with friends who can behave calmly and respect the fact that you need to pay attention to the road.
Don’t Drink or Do Drugs
Driving while intoxicated is another common cause of teen car accidents. While underage drinking is never advisable in any situation, it’s even more dangerous when vehicles are involved. Never, ever, drink and drive. As a teen, you may not feel like the risks are particularly serious. The reason for feeling this way isn’t that the risk is actually low, but that you probably haven’t experienced any severe accidents that demonstrated how great the risk really is. Keep it that way by making sure that you never get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
Make Sure Your Car Is Safe
While it’s common for parents to give their teenager an old clunker for their first car, you should talk with them to see if they’re willing to compromise. Older cars may not be up to current safety standards and are more likely to malfunction. Modern cars have safety improvements that make them a better option over old clunkers. There are plenty of other risks that aren’t within your control as a new driver, so it’s best to cut down on as many unpredictable factors as you can. Before you drive, don’t forget to check the tires and fuel levels as well.
There’s no way around the fact that teens are at higher risk for car accidents than more experienced drivers are. However, you can cut down your overall risk by staying on top of these factors to the best of your ability.
Related: The Scary Truth About Texting And Driving