How can New Drivers Stay Safe Behind the Wheel?May 5, 2021
Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage for teens, and one of the most significant steps toward independence. However, for the parents of the new driver, it can be a nerve-wracking experience. Having a driver’s license means that the teen driver no longer has the constant safety net of a parent sitting in the passenger seat, telling him or her what to do, or not to do, in a range of traffic situations. Parents have to trust that their child is prepared enough, and responsible enough, to follow the rules of the road, avoid unsafe driving behavior, and always make safety a top priority. There are a range of safety tips that new drivers should keep in mind at all times. These can help keep inexperienced teen drivers and other motorists on the road safe and avoid being involved in a serious car accident.
Unfortunately, parents have good reason to worry about their newly licensed teen drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teens in the United States. In fact, in 2018, close to 2,500 teens were killed in car accidents and another 285,000 suffered injuries that required treatment in an emergency department. The CDC also found that male teen drivers are at greater risk of being in an accident than female teen drivers, and both male and female drivers are at an increased risk of being in a car accident when there are several passengers in the vehicle.
What are the Top Safe Driving Tips for Teen Drivers?
Becoming a safe, confident, and skilled driver takes practice and experience. The more time a motorist spends behind the wheel, the better he or she is able to anticipate what other drivers might do, navigate busy highways and crowded city streets, and take proactive steps to avoid unsafe drivers or other factors that can increase the risk of a car accident. The following safety tips can help newly licensed drivers enjoy their newfound independence, while also staying safe and avoiding a serious car accident.
- Obey the rules of the road. In order to obtain a driver’s license, new drivers must pass both a written test and a road test. This ensures that the driver understands what every road sign means, how to navigate a range of traffic situations, and all of the traffic rules and regulations that must be followed.
- Motorists should be familiar with their vehicle. Every car comes equipped with different controls and safety features. Newer vehicles will likely have a wider range of advanced safety features such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and blind spot warning. Motorists are urged to understand how each of these features works, as well as understanding what each of the dashboard symbols means.
- Do not exceed the posted speed limit. It may be tempting to drive faster that the speed limit, particularly if the driver is running late or in a rush. In addition, new drivers who no longer have a parent telling them to slow down may be even more likely to put the pedal to the metal. Speeding is dangerous under any circumstances, but when a new motorist is driving too fast, they could lose control of the vehicle or be unable to slow down in time to avoid hitting another vehicle. New drivers should also know that if they get pulled over for speeding, it is unlikely that a police officer will let them off the hook if they used the excuse of not knowing the speed limit.
- Keep attention focused on the road. Distracted driving is a serious problem, particularly among newly licensed teen drivers. There are a number of things that can easily distract a driver, including a phone call, an incoming text, and other passengers in the vehicle. Texting and talking on the phone are one of the biggest culprits, however, so it is very important that motorists put their phone away while they are driving. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), it takes approximately five seconds to send a text. If the motorist is traveling at 55 mph, that is comparable to driving the length of a football field blindfolded. Phones should be placed out of reach, with the Do Not Disturb feature turned on. Teens should also limit the number of passengers in the vehicle and focus their attention on the road ahead.
- Never drink and drive. In addition to being illegal, drinking and driving is extremely dangerous. When a teen driver gets behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, they can cause a serious car accident that results in devastating injuries or fatalities, depending on the severity of the accident. Too often teens think they are invincible, and that nothing terrible will ever happen to them. However, one bad choice can have tragic consequences that the driver will have to live with for the rest of their life. These accidents are completely preventable if teen drivers make safe, responsible choices when driving.
- Always wear a seat belt. Unfortunately, over half of teen drivers who were involved in fatal car accidents were not wearing their seat belt at the time of the accident. Seat belts are one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce the severity of injuries caused by car accidents. All passengers must wear their seat belts, including the driver, the passenger, and the occupants in the back seat.
- Do not tailgate. Tailgating is one of the leading causes of rear-end accidents. A good guide when following another vehicle is to pick an object on the road ahead, such as a tree or a road sign, and start counting to three when the vehicle ahead passes that object. If the driver in the following car reaches the same object before completing the count to three, he or she is traveling too closely and should slow down.
- Check the weather report. Inclement weather conditions such as rain, ice, snow, fog, or heavy wind can increase the risk of a serious car accident, particularly when an inexperienced, newly licensed driver is behind the wheel. If teen drivers can avoid driving during inclement weather, they should do so. However, if they must drive, they are urged to slow down, make sure the headlights are on, pay attention to the other vehicles on the road, and use extreme caution.
- Adjust the accessories before starting the car. Teen drivers should get into the habit of adjusting things such as the rearview and side mirrors and the seat positioning. In addition, if the vehicle has a navigation system, it should be programmed ahead of time. The driver should also adjust the heat or air conditioning and put their phone in a spot where it will not distract them while driving.
- Practice a range of driving conditions. Just because a teen got their driver’s license does not mean that they are an expert driver. Newly licensed teen drivers should continue to improve their driving skills by practicing a range of different skills, including the following:
– Parallel parking
– Changing lanes
– Navigating busy streets during rush hour
– Merging into oncoming traffic
– Driving during a range of different weather conditions
- Keep the vehicle well maintained. This is highly recommended in order to ensure that the vehicle is working properly and does not break down or jeopardize the safety of the occupants. From checking the tire pressure and changing the oil to monitoring the brakes and the transmission, a well-maintained vehicle is a safe vehicle. Some maintenance items can be easily done by the car owner, whereas others should be left to a qualified mechanic.
- Keep a safety kit in the car. One never knows when a car is going to break down, so it is always better to be prepared. Depending on where the vehicle broke down and the time of day, it could take a bit longer for police or other help to arrive. Having the following items in the vehicle at all times will help keep the driver and the other occupants safe while they wait for help:
– Flashlight with extra batteries
– Road flares
– Jumper cables
– Small set of tools
– Bottled water
– Non-perishable snacks
– Change of clothes
– Cell phone charger
– Umbrella or rain poncho
– First aid kit that includes bandages, gauze, tape, antibiotic ointment, thermometer, hydrocortisone, thermometer, aspirin, and tweezers.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Car Accidents Involving Teen Drivers
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident involving a newly licensed teen driver, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will assist you with every step of the claims process and address all of your questions and concerns. If the other driver was engaging in negligent behavior at the time of the accident, we will ensure that you receive the financial compensation you deserve. We will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.