Preventing accidents is easy when you know what to do
Sometimes it's the obvious things that can have the largest impact. You know the statistics, you've taken the classes and you're ready to drive. But what about all those facts that say teen drivers are most likely to have an accident?
If you follow these common sense steps, you will be taking the most important steps to ensuring you avoid an accident.
- Develop the right attitude about driving. Many teen auto accidents are a result of attitude and maturity, not skills or knowledge. Make a commitment to yourself to practice a responsible attitude about driving. You're controlling over 3,000 pounds of fast-moving metal, and you owe it to yourself, your passengers and other drivers to drive responsibly.
- Get as much supervised practice driving as possible. Your parents should take an active role in your practice driving. Make a firm schedule with them and stick to it. And keep it up until you take your test to get a license.
Many states now have graduated licensing laws. To learn about the laws in your state visit www.iihs.org.
- ALWAYS wear your safety belt. Get into the habit of wearing a safety belt whenever you are in a car, whether as a driver or a passenger - no exceptions.
- Underage drinking and drug use is illegal. Even if you've consumed only one drink or smoked one joint, there is a chemical effect on your brain that can impair judgment and reaction time. Driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs can cost you your license - or your life. Visit www.abovetheinfluence.com for more facts on drug use.
- Limit your passengers. The risk of a fatal crash increases with every additional passenger. When you're a new driver, it is best to limit your number of passengers.
- Limit your night driving. The risk of a fatal crash is three times higher at night than in the day for every mile driven. It's better to avoid nighttime driving until you're comfortable driving during the day.
- Keep it slow and safe for starters. Fast-moving, high volumes of traffic can make you feel uncomfortable, so avoid them until you can get enough supervised driving experience. Then you can gradually introduce more difficult driving situations, like highway driving, merging and driving in cities.
- Train for poor weather conditions. Even when you begin to feel confident driving on dry pavement, it's best to avoid driving in bad weather conditions unsupervised. Keep it simple at first, and get as much supervised practice driving in poor weather as you can before trying it on your own.
- Cell phones are for emergency use only on the road. One of the worst habits anyone can get into is talking on a cell phone while driving. Keep a cell phone with you in the car for emergency situations only. If you have to use a cell phone, pull safely over to the side of the road.
- Drive a safe vehicle. If you are thinking of getting your own car, look for one with high safety ratings. Avoid small cars, trucks or sport utility vehicles. Check out federal statistics and consumer report literature to help to evaluate the safety rating of a car or truck. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (the people who do the crash tests) offers valuable vehicle and safety test advisories.