Safe Driving Tips for Teenage Drivers that Parents Need to Know About

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Safe Driving Tips for Teenage Drivers

It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 15-21 2017) in Canada, and it could not come at a more appropriate time. The autumn season presents a whole new set of challenges for teenage drivers and they need to be more mindful of their actions on the road. And while this week will pass, the tips below should stay at the forefront of your formal and informal family meetings through all four seasons ahead.

5 Things Your Teenage Driver Needs to be More Aware of Before Getting Behind the Wheel

1. Teenage Distracted Driving Habits

This topic is addressed often in the Park Insurance blog, and for good reason. Distracted driving has eclipsed drinking and driving as the leading cause of teenage deaths, and is on the way to becoming the single largest cause of teen mortality in Canada. Data shows that texting is the primary form of distracted driving, and thus you must work with your teen to take the necessary steps to prevent texting while driving. But keeping their thumbs and eyes off their smartphones alone won’t cut it.

Bad but common habits such as eating, drinking, and applying make-up while operating a vehicle must cease. Those are obvious, but bear reminding. However, you must also speak with your teen about less-obvious distractions. These include conversing with other passengers (their friends), loud music, and adjusting audio/climate controls.

Another more obscure but no less impactful distraction is teenage stress. Your teens have a lot on their mind, but may not yet have the emotional and cognitive facilities (do any of us?) to manage the pressures of daily life, especially as they pertain to academic and social activities. You may not be able to help them manage that stress as much as you’d like, but you can be sure to not bring up any topic that will ignite negative feelings within an hour before they hit the road. Save the touchy conversations about midterm exams, boyfriends/girlfriends, and abandoned chores for a more appropriate time. View more on how to stop unanticipated driver distractions.

2. School Zone Conscious Driving

The school zone is your teen’s zone. They (along with faculty) drive to, from, and through it more often than any other. Make sure they understand the road rules around schools zones and instill within them a sense of responsibility as it applies to watching out for the younger students getting in and out of parked cars, school buses, and using the crosswalks. Go over this list of school zone safe driving tips with them for good measure.

3. Seasonal Driving Differences

As a more seasoned driver, navigating the roads of your area becomes habitual and thus safer, assuming you exhibit the characteristics of a good driver. But for a teen who has only been behind the wheel for less than a year or two, experience driving through the changing seasons is far more limited if not nil. You need to arm them with the knowledge and skills of all-season driving, with a focus on autumn and winter.

For instance, with National Teen Driver Safety Week in the thick of autumn, you can begin by going over this list of fall season driver safety tips. This includes exercising caution when driving through rain and over piles of leaves, adjusting for shorter days, and even watching out for migrating wildlife on roads in rural areas.

Winter driving must also be addressed. It’s up to you as the parent to make sure that the vehicle your teen uses is outfitted with the appropriate winter/snow tires. In addition, work with them to winterize the vehicle, performing maintenance to ensure that wipers, fluids, and brakes are ready for rain, sleet, and snow. Stock their trunks full of necessary supplies, including a shovel, gloves, jumper cables, and road flares and provide a tutorial on how to use each, where appropriate. Run through this winter driving safety checklist before the season arrives.

4. Drive Defensively

Having come fresh (relatively) off of their driver’s text, your teen will remember the rules of the road, but you can still hammer home one key element – defensive driving. Let them know that anticipation is the key to vehicular safety. Teach them that they must always be aware of the traffic ahead, behind, and next to them, and to mentally map out “escape routes” should trouble brew. Focus on the two-second rule (maintaining at least one car length behind the car in front of them) in slower speeds, and maintain a larger buffer zone (three-five seconds) when traveling at faster speeds and/or in poor weather.

5. Understanding Insurance and What to Do After an Accident

You have either purchased automobile insurance to cover your teen driver, or helped them do so for their own vehicle, but definitely go over what is and isn’t covered by the policy with them. Insurance and responsible driving go hand in hand and so they should be educated on the matter. In addition, let them know what to do in the event that they are involved in an accident (assuming that they are free from significant injury). This includes recording (photos and notes, as appropriate) the following:

  • Date, time and location of accident
  • Information from other drivers including license number and province, contact information, car make/model, insurance details, and license plate number
  • Information on others including details on those injured or involved in the accident (passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, etc.)
  • Contact information for witnesses
  • Relevant information including weather, speed limits, road signs, road conditions, what they were doing, what the car was doing and so forth. Memory recall is heightened at this time so it is best to record even seemingly inconsequential information – it may make a big difference come claims time. Your teen can even report a claim online from their mobile device.

Help us keep teens safe on the road by sharing this article with your coworkers, friends, family, and loved ones!

~ Park Insurance ~

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