Car Safety Tips for Teen Drivers

Auto insurance premiums for teenage drivers are extraordinarily high. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s Young Drivers Traffic Safety Facts data shows that 2,116 drivers aged 15 to 20 died in traffic crashes in 2021, an increase of 11 percent from 1,899 in 2020. Young drivers, while only comprising 5 percent of all licensed drivers in 2021, accounted for 8.4 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes. This is not taking into account the amount of damage to vehicles and property. Teen drivers do not have the experience to see a dangerous situation on the road or the skills needed to see and avoid possible hazards. However, there are many ways to reduce the odds of an accident as a new driver and avoid the even higher rates that will be added to your coverage cost if you have an accident.

Teen driver using Jacksonville auto insurance

Prepare Before You Drive

Teenagers tend to always be in a hurry and don’t always prepare for the risks of the road.

Leave in Plenty of Time to Reach Your Destination—One of the worst things you can do as a new driver is rush to work or school on time. Rushing leads to overlooking things and unnecessary risks when trying to arrive on time. Try to arrive at your destination at least five to ten minutes before you need to be there.

Wear Your Seatbelt!—At least half of teen drivers and passengers ages 16–19 years who were killed in passenger vehicle crashes in 2020 were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. It is a simple way to reduce death and serious injury in an auto accident. 

Be Aware of the Weather—Keep an eye on the forecast and leave earlier during rain, snow, or other bad weather. Poor weather leads to poor road conditions, which are a leading cause of deadly accidents. So either limit teens from driving in poor weather conditions or (better yet) spend some time teaching them in safe driving scenarios so they can gain experience driving in this weather.

Know Where You Are Going—Plan your route ahead of time, selecting safe roads and avoiding known hazards. Do not depend solely on GPS to get there. And if you have a GPS display, don’t look at it while the car is in motion.

Adjust Vehicle Settings—Inexperienced drivers must adjust the mirrors for maximum visibility and adjust the seat and steering wheel to maximize visibility and comfort. This is critical for inexperienced drivers.

On the Road

Expect Other Drivers to Do the Unexpected—Assume that other drivers will make mistakes and that you’ll need to react quickly. Be prepared because other drivers may suddenly slam on their brakes, switch lanes, or run a red light.

Keep an Eye on Everything Around You—Don’t just focus on only what’s in front of you. Use your mirrors to see what’s going on behind and to the side of you. Watch for movement in your peripheral vision, which may be that of a pedestrian, animal, or bicyclist. Always check your blind spots before changing lanes.

Maintain a Safe Distance—Avoid tailgating by following the three-second rule. Counting to three at a stop sign or after the vehicle in front of you passes a landmark provides plenty of space between you. You may want to add a couple of seconds to this rule in bad weather, giving you more time to stop suddenly if needed.

Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents for new drivers. According to the CDC, in 2019, among U.S. high school students who drove, 39% texted or emailed while driving at least once during the prior 30 days. No one should use their cell phone while driving. Ever. But if you are a new driver, it is best not to do these things while behind the wheel:

  • Eat
  • Talk a lot with your passengers
  • Mess with your GPS
  • Play loud music

Remember, driving takes time and practice to master. By following these safety tips and making intelligent choices, you can help keep yourself and others safe on the road and earn lower auto insurance rates with a clean driving record.

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