You learned teenage driving safety at the driver’s ed classes at school and practiced with your learner's permit. You passed the driving test. You got your driver's license. And now it's Friday night. Do you think you’re a safe driver? Consider the stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and follow these tips for driving safely when you’re out with your friends.
Buckle Up Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use. In 2011, only 54 percent of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else. Why is it so important? Wearing a seat belt can reduce the risk of crash injuries by 50 percent.
Don’t ever believe it’s not cool to wear your seatbelt. Instead, take initiative, and remind passengers around you to buckle up. You can even share these statistics to prove a point.
Respect Your Inexperience The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-to-19-year-olds than among any other age group. Crash risk is particularly high during the first months of licensure. Why? Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous situations.
What can you do? Get more experience. Run errands. Go to the store for milk or pick your little brother up from practice. If your family is heading somewhere together, offer to drive.
Don’t Let Friends Distract The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers. Why? It’s easy to get lost in the fun of your new found freedom or even try to show off a little bit. Simply focus on the road, even with friends in tow. Keep the discussion light and keep the music at a level where you can hear outside traffic. Finally, limit the number of friends you have in the car and don’t feel pressured to show off. This puts their safety at risk, too.
Put the Phone Down In 2011, at least 23 percent of auto collisions involved cell phones. That’s 1.3 million crashes! Wait to view that latest text that just came through. If you need to look at your phone, pull off to a safe place on the side of the road. In many states, it’s illegal to text and drive, which means you could get a ticket and make your parents think twice about letting you have the car — or the phone!
Never Drink and Drive! Drinking and driving kills. It could kill you, your passengers and anyone you hit. In 2010, 22 percent of drivers aged 15 to 20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes were drinking. Also, half of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight and 55 percent occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Has your friend been drinking? Do not get in the car with them — even if they tell you they are “OK.” Call a trusted adult to come pick you up. Even if you are afraid you might get in trouble, it’s not worth putting yourself in danger.
Obey Household Rules Follow any limits your parents have placed on you for driving. Stay off the highway, have the car home on time and fill up the gas tank. You'll earn their respect and more car time! Learn about teenage driving safety and get tips for driving safely at BeingGirl.com.