Driver safety is a concern you share with many other drivers globally, as the tendency for various mishaps on the road is high. This safety concern is even more significant for you as a teen driver, as statistics prove you have a higher risk of getting into accidents than any other age group. The Centre For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2018, reported that about 285,000 teens received treatment in emergency departments for crash-related injuries that year. So, how can you protect yourself as a teen driver? Here are some tips.
- Stay focused
Driving can sometimes feel like an autopilot cruise, but it requires your undivided attention and focus; the slightest distraction can cause a commotion. Distracted driving is a leading cause of car crashes globally. People generally get distracted due to three main distraction types, which road safety experts classify as manual, cognitive, or visual. These distractions can arise in a broad range of activities like texting or receiving calls, eating or drinking, tuning your radio, punching GPS coordinates, etc. As such, maintain full awareness every time you’re driving by ignoring the distractions and giving your undivided attention to the road ahead to remain safe.
- Fasten your seat belt
The seat belt rule may sound like a no-brainer, but it is vital to your safety while driving. Statistics show that teens and young adults use seat belts the least, putting them at significant risk of danger if an accident occurs. Seat belts prevent passenger ejection during a crash, reducing your likelihood of being injured or killed. Wearing your seat belts also prevents you from receiving traffic tickets and paying fines, keeping your driving record intact. You must adopt a strict seat belt wearing habit as second nature to protect yourself while driving. Insist that your passengers buckle up as a standard protocol before you set off anywhere, ensuring that you are taking responsibility for all lives in your car as a good driver should.
- Have Insurance
The increased risk of teens experiencing accidents is a pressing sign for you to get insured as a cover for protection. Auto insurance rates typically consider your car type, driving history, gender, and age. Age is a significant consideration for many insurance companies because younger drivers are usually inexperienced and statistically more likely to crash. Although the premiums are higher for teen drivers, many road safety experts insist that coverage for teenage drivers is a must-have. Therefore, you should get auto insurance quotes from a reliable insurance company for estimates on how much your insurance will cost, and speak to your parents about getting insured for your safety while driving. Remember, these costs generally reduce as you grow with an impressive driving record, so drive responsibly at all times.
- Don’t drink and drive
Research indicates that teens are especially at risk of alcohol-related car crashes than older drivers, even if both age groups consume the same alcohol amount below the legal limit. Alcohol impairs most of the skills driving requires, like your vision, judgment, and reaction time. Drunk driving is therefore a sure recipe for disaster. Many teens suffer grave consequences yearly due to drunk driving. Suppose you are lucky to escape with your life and body intact; in that case, zero-tolerance laws that make it illegal for you to drink and drive below age 21 will possibly put you in jail, cost you your driver’s license, and affect your college application negatively. As such, avoid trouble by driving sober at all times.
- Obey speed limits
Speeding is a leading cause of car crashes among drivers worldwide, including American teens. It is dangerous because passenger vehicles can’t withstand the impact of high-speed collisions, and airbags and seat belts may not suffice to keep you safe. Speeding also robs you of adequate reaction time if any danger occurs while driving- you will have to brake harder, and your impact is more significant. Many seasoned drivers advise that speed can be an illusion to new drivers, and it takes quite some experience to gain an intuitive feel for how fast you are going. Therefore, resist the need for speed as much as possible to stay safe.
- Get Enough Sleep
Quality sleep is vital to your body’s overall functioning in more ways than you realize. An activity like driving requires concentration and coordination heavily influenced by your sleeping habits, either negatively or positively. Bad sleeping habits can negatively affect your performance behind the wheel and put you in grave danger. Research suggests that persistent irregular sleeping patterns don’t just cause young drivers to feel drowsy while driving, but can negatively alter your judgment in the long-term. Teenagers are among the highest risk groups for sleep deprivation in the US due to their social life, excessive technology use, homework, and early school start times. Therefore, it would be prudent to make lifestyle changes that allow you to get the recommended eight hours of daily sleep to stay refreshed and alert, lowering your odds of crashing significantly.
- Limit your passengers and night-time driving
Teenagers driving at night and with friends are also risk factors for crashes. Experts advise not driving at night because fatal accidents usually happen between 9 pm and midnight, when you and other drivers are likely to be impaired due to fatigue, alcohol, etc. For passenger limiting, many states even have laws restricting the number of passengers you can transport. One reason for this is an easy distraction from peers while driving, so it is generally safer to go solo or keep the numbers minimal. It is no secret that peer pressure is widespread among teens, and so the pressure to conform and impress can easily override good judgment and end in bad outcomes. Multiple studies link teens with transporting peers who exhibit thrill-seeking behavior such as running red lights, speeding, and overall hyperactivity behind the wheel. As such, you suffer an increased risk of crash and death. Consider limiting your passengers to save you from the pressure of trying to impress and risking your life while at it.