Drivers aged 16-25 are at most risk for driving accidents, sending parents everywhere into a panic. Here are four big mistakes new drivers make, along with some ways to reshape the suboptimal behavior.
Breaking the speed limit puts new drivers at risk for accidents, as well as for speeding tickets. Speeding tickets are a double whammy — the tickets themselves can be costly, and they can increase insurance premiums. A reckless-driving speeding ticket could increase your premium by 22% a year, or $176/year, if your base insurance costs $800/year, and that ticket can follow you for a few years. Ease up on the pedal just a bit to avoid tickets, and consider that money in the bank as an excuse to take a little vacation every few years.
Using Phone and Apps
Sure, stories of drivers using Snapchat to document >100mph speeds, or plowing into trees while chasing Pokemon are the exception, but nearly 70% of teens admit to using apps while driving. While driving 55mph, taking eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, in favor of the phone, means ignoring a stretch of road the length of a football field, leaving a plenty of room for error and serious accidents.
Training new drivers begins well before they get behind the wheel. Just as parents have encouraged children to buckle up, and have modeled that behavior themselves, parents should do the same for mobile devices. Before starting the vehicle, make a point to check phones for text messages or email, if necessary, then silence all incoming alerts, and put the phone in the glovebox, or a location within the car, but not within tempting reach. Also, if you know your teen — or anyone — is driving, do your part and avoid texting or calling that driver until he or she has likely reached the destination.
Not Wearing a Seat Belt
As with mobile phone use, parents should always make a point to confirm that their own seat belts are on, and ensure kids are buckled in, too. Don’t pull out of your parking spot or driveway until every belt is fastened.
NHTSA has estimated that lap/shoulder seat belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent. Seat belts dramatically decrease the risk of drivers and passengers being ejected from the vehicle. According to the same NHTSA report, in fatal crashes in 2014, about 80 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were totally ejected from the vehicle were killed.
The Passenger Effect
According to Autoblog, teen drivers and passengers are a deadly mix. New drivers may not even realize that loading a car with friends is a mistake. Referencing this AAA study, Autoblog noted that when teens drive, carrying one young (under 21) passenger increased fatality rates by 44 percent. That risk “doubled with two passengers, and quadruples when carrying three or more passengers who are under 21 years old.”
While limiting your young driver’s capacity to carry friends may seem over-protective, make yourself aware of the statistics, so your family doesn’t become one of them.