Tips for teen drivers: Watch for bumps and enjoy the journey
The day has finally arrived. As a new teen driver, you don’t have to rely on mom or dad to get from point A to point B. You’re finally independent and it feels so good! It’s quite a milestone to be able to grab the keys and drive away from home on your own. That’s great, fantastic, awesome and almost surreal. But keep in mind that your newfound independence comes with brand new responsibilities and dangers. My best advice to you is to watch for bumps along the way, but enjoy every mile of the journey.
Also, be kind to your parents! Watching a child drive away can be traumatic. Trust me. I was ecstatic when my two sons became licensed drivers and celebrated the milestone by posting photos on Facebook (yes, I know kids hate this, but it’s what we moms do). They both took Drivers Ed and in-car lessons at Drive Smart Georgia. They practiced parallel parking, listened to their instructors, and successfully passed their driving test on their first tries. Success! Like you, they were very proud and excited to hit the road.
Then, reality hits like a ton of bricks. You aren’t little kids anymore, but independent teenagers that are in control of a moving 3,200-lb. vehicle. The first time you pull out of the driveway, we moms get a sinking feeling in our hearts and try not to shed a tear. That’s because we know the dangers you will face out on the open road. Most parents have had close calls throughout the years. Some of us have even been involved in crashes. We don’t want the same thing to happen to you! But, we can’t be in the car with you now. So, your safety is in your own hands. Do your parents a big favor, and read these safety tips from Drive Smart Georgia to avoid a bumpy road during your first year of driving. On the other, hand – enjoy the ride, enjoy your independence. And give your parents a big hug.
It’s the law in all 50 states. Before even putting the key in the ignition, make sure your seat belt is fastened. Plus, make sure all your passengers are buckled up too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half. Air bags provide added protection, but are not a substitute for seat belts. Buckle up each and every time!
Remember when you had to adjust your mirrors on your bike and fill your tires when heading out on a ride? Before you even move a car, certain adjustments are necessary. Yes, adjust your mirrors to minimize blind spots, but also clean your windshield, turn off the phone, and find your favorite radio station or playlist on Spotify. Don’t do these things while in motion. It’s much too dangerous. Don’t forget to adjust your headrest to a height behind your head – not your neck – to minimize whiplash in case you’re in an accident.
Time to Move!
You’re a teen, so you think you’re infallible. Yes, you tend to speed (especially boys!) and think you own the road. You don’t. Be a courteous driver by signaling properly, avoid tailgating other cars, and obeying all road rules. The plain truth is that car crashes is the number one killer among teens. Don’t be a statistic. Your life depends on it.
People tend to think that your biggest driving distraction is a cell phone. It isn’t (but it’s certainly dangerous). The biggest distraction is peer passengers. As a new driver, you haven’t encountered dangerous situations on the road. Yet. But you will. That’s why it’s especially important to always keep your eyes on the road. Joshua’s Law allows no peer passengers for the six months. During the second six months, you can have just one peer passenger in the car with you. After one year, a teen driver in Georgia can have no more than three other passengers. For more details about Joshua’s Law, click here.
Put the phone in the glove box
Teen drivers face more dangers than we ever did. Devices like cell phones, iPods and such all pose potentially deadly dangers, especially to inexperienced teen drivers. Any distraction is dangerous not only to you, but also to passengers, other drivers on the road, and bystanders. Texting is one of today’s most alarming distractions because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver. Teen drivers (and adults too!) simply cannot multi-task while behind the wheel. It’s downright dangerous, so just don’t do it.
Learn from your mistakes
As with anything else in life, practice makes perfect. You will make a bad driving decision at one time or another. That’s OK because experience is the best teacher of all. When you make a mistake, adjust your behavior and “learn your lesson.” Learning to drive doesn’t happen in just a few months. It’s a skill that must be honed and perfected over time.
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