Beasley Best Community of Caring

Beasley Best Community of Caring

Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage for most kids. Across the U.S., teens as young as 14 are getting behind the wheel; teens can have full driving privileges at 16 in some states. The Governors Highway Safety Association state-by-state guide can give you the rules and regulations for novice drivers in your area.

Are you and your teen both ready to roll? The American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips on teaching your teen to drive. Their recommendations include discussing your route and the skills you’ll be practicing, giving clear and simple instructions calmly, addressing mistakes as they occur and reviewing their progress at the end of the lesson. Eventually your teen will be driving off without you and your expert guidance. But now what?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2,608 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver in 2021. Some due to speeding. Others were caused by impaired driving. These are obvious safety risks for your teen driver. Teens who complete Drivers Ed, at school, online or with a private instructor, are less likely to take part in risky behavior or be involved in an accident. Student drivers learn the rules of the road and defensive driving techniques to help them become safer drivers. Most school districts and all states have programming available, find your local provider at the NHTSA website.

Here are a few more that you need to address before a drive ends in disaster.

  • Passengers

    a bunch of teenagers in and around a car
    In a study evaluated by the NHTSA, teen drivers were two-and-a-half times more likely to engage in risky behaviors when driving with just one teenage peer vs driving alone. From there the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teenagers in the car. This is the reason each state restricts the number and type of passengers a beginner driver is allowed to carry; stick to these laws no matter how long -or short – the trip is. Set driving ground rules with your teen and explain the consequences for breaking them; put it in writing and enforce it!

  • Buckle up – it’s not only the law in every state, it’s lifesaving advice.

    Teenager girl preparing to start her car and drive
    51% of the teen drivers who died in 2021 were unbuckled. Sadly, passengers follow their example; when a teen driver involved in a fatal accident wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, nine out of ten passengers who died were also unbuckled. This lesson has to start when they are very young; teach your kids to buckle up as soon as they graduate from a car seat. The NHTSA lists distraction, comfort and a false sense of safety as the main reasons kids ride beltless. A child distracted by games or snacking may just forget to buckle, so keep reminding them. Uncomfortable seatbelts may be an indication your child isn’t ready to leave their booster seat. Many kids – and adults – think they don’t need a belt on a short trip or at reduced speeds, but in fact, most fatal crashes happen within 25 miles of home and at speeds of less than 40 miles per hour. Their most important advice, buckle up yourself. When parents and caregivers fail to fasten their belt, children are less likely to wear theirs.

  • Drowsy Driving

    Sleepy young  car driver making a stop
    Studying, part-time jobs and extracurricular activities can impact your kid’s bedtime routine. A sleep deprived teen driver is an impaired teen driver. Drowsiness affects alertness, reaction time and judgement. Drivers 17-23 years old, those who sleep less than six hours a night, who drive on rural roads or who drive after midnight are at the highest risk of an accident. Make sure your teen gets a good night’s sleep, monitor their driving after dark and pay attention to your state’s restrictions for nighttime driving.

  • Distracted Driving

    Distracted teenage drive driving a car with his cell phone in his hand. The light from the screen of the phone is illuminating his face.
    An inexperienced teen can’t afford any distractions. According to the NHTSA, dialing a phone increases a teen’s risk of crashing by six! Texting increases the risk 23 times over. It’s not just smart devices causing distractions. Loud music can prevent a driver from hearing an approaching emergency vehicle or another driver’s warning horn. A teen late for school may try to make up time by fixing their hair, downing a breakfast sandwich or cup of coffee or applying lipstick while driving. Anything that takes their focus off the road – and that includes hands-free devices – reduces their ability to react to a sudden stop in front of them, a pothole or a patch of ice. Teach by example, make driving your number one priority when behind the wheel.

  • Hands on the Wheel

    Teenage boy sitting in a right hand driver car's driver's seat
    A tire blows out, a car drifts into their lane, a child or pet runs in front of the car or they hit black ice. All of these road emergencies require quick reactions and total control of the vehicle. Today driving instructors recommend holding the steering wheel at the 9-o-clock and 3-o-clock position — opposite sides of the wheel halfway up. This hand position allows good control over the wheel while reducing the risk of injury from the airbag in a crash. A bonus to proper placement, hands that are on the wheel aren’t texting, eating or applying make-up!

  • Shoes Make a Difference

    Accelerator and breaking pedal in a car. Close up the foot pressing foot pedal of a car to drive ahead. Driver driving the car by pushing accelerator pedals of the car. inside vehicle.
    Believe it or not footwear is the cause of around 16,000 crashes each year! (NHTSA) Drivers of all ages should be aware of ‘pedal error’ – a high heel caught under the brake or accelerator, a slippery dress shoe sole sliding off the clutch or a chunky wedge catching both pedals at once. Flip Flops are hard to keep on while walking, image one falling off between the pedals at 60 miles per hour? Go shoeless? Sweaty feet can slide off as well and, if you are involved in an accident, shoes protect your feet from glass and debris when you get out to inspect the damage. Thin soled shoes are the best choice for driving, keep a pair in the car to slip on before starting up.

  • Keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road - your kids are watching you.

    Close up Bearded Matured Man Wearing Hat, Focusing the Road while Driving his Vehicle in the Middle of the Night.
    Driving this lesson home, the best thing you can do as a parent is to be a good role model. Set an example for them and practice safe driving by wearing that seat belt, putting down the phone, being courteous to other drivers and obeying all the laws.

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