The statistics don’t lie. Teenage drivers are responsible for an inordinately high proportion of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that 15-24 year old drivers are responsible for about 30 percent of accidents, even though they represent only 14 percent of the overall population. That means they are almost twice as likely to be involved in an accident than other age groups.
It seems obvious that the most inexperienced group of drivers would account for the highest number of car crashes. While underestimating dangerous situations, following too closely and failing to account for inclement weather are some of the most common causes for accidents amongst teens, a lack of driving experience doesn’t tell the whole story.
Teenage drivers also make poor decisions before even starting the car. Here are three easily avoidable choices that every new driver needs to be aware of.
Failure to Inspect The Vehicle
Most young drivers share a car with parents or other siblings, which makes inspecting your vehicle before you drive even more important. Walk around the car and visually check the tire pressure lights. Driving-tests.org has acomplete checklist of external features that should be inspected before you drive. Once inside, pay special attention to side and rearview mirror adjustment. Every driver has a preference when it comes to mirror placement, and you should always assume that someone has repositioned the mirrors since the last time you drove the car. Pick a fixed object in your blindspot–like a telephone pole or a parked car–and adjust the mirror until this object comes into view. Failure to account for other cars in a blind spot is one of the most common causes of accidents among new drivers. Your mirrors are the first line of defense.
Too Many Passengers
For teenagers, the ability to drive is synonymous with freedom, and that freedom typically includes picking up and transporting a carload of friends to school or the mall. However, the chance of an accident increases with each additional teenage passenger, according to the CDC. Every passenger is an opportunity for distraction and young passengers are far less likely to respect a driver’s need to focus on the road. During the first six months of driving, parents should limit the number of passengers to one. It’s the perfect number for getting your teen acclimated to driving with a controlled amount of distraction without them being overwhelmed by a car full of immature teens.
No Seat Belt
Teen drivers may not have a lot of experience driving, but they do have a lot of experience riding in a motor vehicle and wearing a seat belt. That’s why it’s so strange that teenagers have the lowest rate of seatbelt use. The CDC reports that in 2013, only 55 percent of high school students reported that they always put on a seatbelt when riding in car. In general, teenagers are more likely to take short trips, which can give them a false sense of security about their own safety. Make sure your new driver knows that a seat belt is for every trip, not just high-speed interstate travel. You are just as likely to get in an accident driving down the street as you are driving across the country. They should also have a zero tolerance policy for passengers who won’t wear a seat belt. In reality, no one is too cool for a little safety.