Teaching Your Teen Safe Driving Habits

Car crashes are the most common cause of death for teenagers, and distracted driving is the most common cause of accidents. 2,841 people were killed in 2018 alone from distracted driving, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2,121 of those involved a teen driver. However, these distracted driving-related accidents are avoidable.

Girl in Car

Teaching Your Teen Safe Driving Habits

If you have a young driver in your family, have a conversation with your teen driver. Talk to them about their responsibility as a driver, both to themselves, passengers they may have in the car, and to other drivers on the road.

Here are a few key questions regarding safe driving your teen driver can start asking himself or herself as they observe their own driving habits:

  1. Do I always have enough space to stop without getting too close to the car in front of me?
  2. Am I following all the road signs?
  3. Do I know the speed limit and am I driving the speed limit?
  4. Am I paying attention to the road in front of me?
  5. Am I distracted while I’m driving, and by what?

What Are The Three Types of Distractions While Driving?

There are actually three types of distractions while driving:

  1. Manual Distractions: For example, taking one hand off the wheel to change the music on your phone, to check the GPS instructions, even to reach for your cup of coffee.
  2. Visual Distractions: Including not looking at the road (for example looking at your phone).
  3. Cognitive Distractions: This is where you are taking your mind off of your driving responsibilities. Sometimes it is the easiest form of distracted driving.

The bottom line is that it is easy to find yourself distracted while behind the wheel. We all know that.

How Do Cell Phones Affect Driving?

Using your phone involves all three forms of distraction listed above. In fact, a recent study by the University of Utah showed that cell phone users are over 5 times more likely to get into an accident than drivers not using phones.

Most newer phones now include a setting called Do Not Disturb While Driving. It sends all calls to voicemail. All alerts are put on silent as well. For instance, most iPhones can be set as follows:

To Set Up:

  • Go to Settings
  • Go to Control Center
  • Add “Do Not Disturb While Driving”
  • Before Driving, Pull Down from the Top of Your Screen to Reveal Control Center
  • Touch the Car symbol to Turn on Do Not Disturb While Driving”

What Are The Restrictions Of A Junior License In PA?

There is no shortage of opportunities for your new driver to practice safe driving before being given the keys. For instance, in Pennsylvania teens need 65 hours of adult-supervised driving, including at least ten hours of nighttime driving and five hours of bad weather driving. Most insurance companies give discounts on insurance premiums for of completion of driving courses.

In addition, more passengers mean more distractions. A front-seat passenger can be great for navigating and being in control of the music. However, passengers can easily create chaos. Tell your teen to be conscious of this every time they get behind the wheel.

Is there An App To Disable A Teen’s Phone While Driving?

DriveSmart and Canary are two apps that can limit distractions from cell phone use and also enhance functions like Apple’s driving mode may miss. Canary can also be set up to alert parents of their teen’s actual driving practice. They can be easily downloaded from your App store. These are two examples of many apps of this type.

Follow Signs for Road Conditions and Detours

In northeastern Pennsylvania, there is an abundance of road work being conducted. More work will also be performed after the winter due to potholes on the road. When this is the case, speed limits and traffic patterns will often change temporarily. Explain to your new driver that it is dangerous to assume that they know for sure what the traffic patterns are. All drivers must be prepared to respond to anything around them, from drivers attempting to change lanes, to road work, to traffic ahead. Tell you teen driver to be on the lookout for those brake lights ahead.
In Pennsylvania, this is called the “assured clear distance” rule.

Monitor Blind Spots

Every vehicle has their own distinct blindspots. Monitor cars on either side and be very careful about changing lanes. This is always important and can prevent serious accidents during snowy and icy conditions. In addition, spend time teaching your new driver how to drive in inclement weather. Unfortunately, or fortunately, becoming a better driver takes time, practice, and experience.

Lead By Example

Teen drivers will in fact follow their parents’ example. New drivers whose parents frequently give into distractions are two-to-four times more likely to also drive distracted. Show your teen driver safe methods to drive, even if it means calling yourself out when you make a mistake on the road. Don’t check your own phone, fuss with the radio, and monitor your speed. Encourage your teen driver to develop good driving habits, to be aware of the various types of distractions that occur while driving, to pay attention to what distracts us as drivers, and to limit the distractions. As a parent teaching your young driver good habits, you too can put the phone away, and keep it away, every time you get in the car. Whether it is in a purse, a glove box, or a separate part of the car entirely, it will make a difference in what your new driver learns. They are always watching!

Carpey Law has joined the Pledge to Not Drive Distracted and encourages you and your teen driver to also do so. Contact Carpey Law if you have ever been in an accident and want to discuss your legal options.