Teen Talk, July 4, 2013-Holiday Driving Tips
July 4th is typically a time for outdoor barbecues, family gatherings, and celebrating the birth of our nation. However last year we had a teenage cousin who passed in a car accident and it was just a horrible tragedy. From that experience I would like for you to share with other families any safety precautions that you can address with teens so that their family doesn’t experience what we did in our family last year.
Celebrating the birth of our nation is certainly a holiday we all look forward to and each year we want to do so with great enthusiasm and a sense of patriotism. However, according to the research from the insurance institute of Highway Safety, July 4th is now the deadliest day on the road, not just for teenagers, but for all Americans. And so as parents, we play an important role in protecting our teens on the road. So parents, with regards for safety, here is where we start. Teen driving goes up by 44% during the summer time and during these months teens tend to drive more often.
1. If you look at the research teens indicate that parents are the number one influence behind the wheel. Safe driving behavior starts with modeling how you want your teen to drive. So first, let us model good safe driving habits.
2. Parents, if you have a brand new driver, it is important that you learn to sit shotgun with your new driver. On no occasion are you to every drink and drive. Teens are very aware of your behavior and this will dictate their behavior by what they observe. So again, lead by example.
3. Because teen driving has increased so dramatically check your brakes and brake fluid. Teenagers typically speed more than most. While teens are interested in how fast that car can go, parents should be very concerned about how well that car can stop.
4. Limit the number of passengers your teen is allowed to transport, and insist that all passengers are using a seatbelt, particularly during peak holiday times. The risk of a car crash goes up exponentially for each passenger added.
5. Set a nighttime driving restriction. A rule of thumb that helps to ensure teen safety is not to allow teen driving after midnight. Teens drive only 15% of their miles at night but 40% of their fatal motor vehicle crashes happen during that time period. If it has to be done, make alternate arrangements particularly after big events like a big July 4th party, always have a backup driver.
6. Never drive while under the influence of alcohol, prescription, or street drugs or over the counter medications. This is a good standard of driving for teens. Lots of people out there are still driving under the influence of medication.
7. Teens keep your cell phone off. Multiple studies indicate using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of driving drunk. Do not, and I repeat, do not text. Research shows texting on average causes a lack of focus on the road for 5 seconds. A lot can go wrong in those 5 seconds.
8. Turn on your headlights. Doing so can increase your visibility and help other drivers see you.
9. Teens, obey the speed limit. Speeding causes about 40% of all fatal teen accidents. This is especially true when driving on roads with lots of traffic and July 4th is one of them.
10. Maintain your focus and minimize distraction. It may be tempting to eat, drink, flip the radio, play music, cruise around town, remember with an inexperienced driver you can lose control of your car and not notice an upcoming obstacle.
11. Review with your youngster defensive driving. Always be aware of the traffic ahead, behind and next to you and have possible escape routes just in case.
12. Parents, allow your teen to drive the safest car in the household. We tend to give our children the left over cars, however, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and airbags, these are safety tools for our young, inexperienced drivers.
13. Teens, be a courteous driver on the road. There are too many other drivers out there who too often experience road rage. You do not want to trigger a negative response from a driver because they see your behavior as confrontational.
14. Improve your parking skills, this will save the possibility of you banging into other cars and certainly a lot of grief and aggravation and money.
15. Be aware and follow the speed limit. Be on the lookout for traffic signs.
16. Always watch out for pedestrians. Residential areas are prime locations for people who enjoy walking, often off the sidewalks, so be sure and remain alert.
17. Finally, teach your teen drivers about risks and hazards they may face when behind the wheel. This would include the possibility of an accident or the car landing in a ditch or a lake.
This holiday celebrating our country’s freedom should be one where your teen’s should be as safe as possible so we want you to enjoy your day and keep these tips in mind.