Before handing the keys over to your teen driver (is there anything more nerve-wracking?), it’s important that they know the dangers of driving distracted. In 2019, distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives, and teenage drivers were the largest age group of distracted drivers at the time of a fatal crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Before your teen gets behind the wheel, review these 10 safety tips for teen drivers with them to help them develop good driving habits.
1. Participate in a Safe-driving Course
The more practice your teen driver has behind the wheel, the better prepared they’ll be for the unexpected. Check with your state’s department of motor vehicles to find an approved list of safe-driving courses. Often, these courses can be taken online or in-person. And, while you’re looking for ways to save, talk with your local Farm Bureau agent about our Young Driver Safety Program.
2. Limit Distractions
Distractions are everywhere, but most predominantly from chirping and buzzing phones. Staying alert is an essential safe driving tip for teenage drivers, who may be tempted to respond to their phones while driving. Encourage your teen to get into the habit of turning their cellphone off and putting it out of sight every time they get into the driver’s seat. Encourage them to join the thousands of drivers who have taken our Safe Driving Pledge (you can join, too!) and vow to focus on the road ahead. The text can wait.
3. Practice Nighttime Driving
Nighttime driving takes extra experience and additional skill. Give your teen plenty of supervised opportunities to practice driving at night and in all kinds of weather and situations before allowing them to take the wheel solo in the dark.
4. Obey the Speed Limit
Excessive speed is a significant factor in many traffic fatalities. Your teen, who is relatively new to driving, might not yet understand how to intuitively “feel” the speed they’re driving or how to accelerate and brake properly. Lead by example: Watch your speed when you are behind the wheel and help monitor your teen’s speed when you’re riding along.
5. Watch the Weather
Teen drivers are especially vulnerable to bad weather conditions as they’ve not had much practice driving in low-visibility conditions like snow, ice, heavy rain and fog. A few helpful new driver tips for driving in bad weather include slowing down, increasing following distance and getting off the road when conditions warrant.
6. Practice School Zone Safety
If your teenager is going to be driving to and from school each day, they need to be extra mindful in school zones. Encourage your teen driver to arrive 10 minutes early and leave later to avoid the mad dash in and out of the parking lot. Always stop for school buses with flashing lights and be aware of students getting off the bus or crossing the street.
7. Yellow Lights Mean Slow Down and Stop
When in doubt, hit the brakes. Attempting to outrun a yellow light is a dangerous practice. When riding along with your teen driver, teach them to always practice caution when approaching yellow lights, which normally mean stopping for them rather than running them.
8. Hands on the Wheel, Eyes on the Road
Drivers have the most control over their vehicle when both hands are on the wheel and their eyes are on the road. This will also help limit and discourage distracted driving.
9. Be Aware, Always
It takes just one driver to make one bad move. Always being aware of the cars around you — who’s entering a turning lane, who’s exiting a parking lot, who’s approaching you from behind, who’s turning at an intersection with pedestrians in the crosswalk — can help your teen evade situations before they become accidents.
10. Practice what YOU Preach!
As an experienced driver, you should set a good example for your young driver. Demonstrate safe driving behavior by driving defensively, buckling up and avoiding distractions while you’re behind the wheel.
Instilling safe driving habits and reminding teens to avoid distractions behind the wheel can help your young driver head in the right direction. Connect with your local Farm Bureau Agent to learn more about our Young Driver Discount.