10 Safety Tips for Teen Drivers

If you have a newly licensed teen driver at home, they are likely excited to hit the road! Yet it’s important for parents to first review safety behind the wheel.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 2,276 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers in 2020. Additionally, half of all teens will be in at least one accident before graduating high school. These factors make car accidents the primary cause of death among the 15 to 18 age group. To help keep your teen safe, review the following 10 points.

1. Get Used to Your Car

Although your teen has likely practiced in the vehicle they will now be driving, it can take time to get used to how it operates. If the car is new, you as the parent might also have to familiarize yourself with the car to help teach your teen. Before they start regularly driving: 

  • Read the owner’s manual
  • Review all controls, including dashboard warning lights 
  • Touch on basic maintenance, including checking the tire pressure
  • Discuss what to do in the event of an accident

2. Make Vehicle Adjustments

It’s important for your teen to feel comfortable behind the wheel in order to drive safe. As many vehicle features can be adjusted, consider the following:

  • Make sure your teen’s feet can reach the pedals
  • Modify seat placement and height
  • Adjust the rearview and outside mirrors

3. Avoid Distracted Behaviors

Across all demographics, texting and driving increases accident risk 23 times over. Aside from using a cell phone, distracted driving encompasses a range of behaviors that take the user’s eyes and concentration off the road, including:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Applying makeup
  • Talking to passengers
  • Adjusting the radio

4. Never Drive Under the Influence

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not only illegal, but makes your teen a significant hazard on the road. In addition to their own actions, stress to your teen they should never get in the car with someone else who’s intoxicated. Also emphasize the importance of designating a sober driver to get home safely, if needed.

5. Don’t Drive Tired

Research has shown that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. It’s estimated that drowsy driving may be responsible for 10 to 20 percent of overall crashes resulting in a fatality or injury. Drivers between the ages of 17 and 23 have a higher likelihood of engaging in this behavior.

6. Be Cautious with Passengers

Teen drivers with a passenger in the vehicle are 2.5 times more likely to participate in risky behavior. During the first six months of licensure in Connecticut, a teen can only drive with:

  • A licensed driving instructor
  • Parents or legal guardian
  • Someone at least 20 years old who’s had their driver’s license for four or more consecutive years

For the second six months, a teen can also drive with immediate family members in the car. These restrictions are meant to prevent recklessness once a teen driver is able to have more passengers in the car.

7. Don’t Exceed the Speed Limit

Speed played a role in nearly 30 percent of all fatal crashes involving teen drivers in 2020. Parents should emphasize the importance of obeying the speed limit and adjusting to conditions ahead, including constructions zones and icy roads.   

8. Always Wear a Seatbelt

Many teens feel invincible, which can lead to inconsistences with wearing a seatbelt. In fact, 51 percent of teens killed behind the wheel in 2020 were not buckled up. Connecticut now has a law requiring all passengers to buckle up, including those in the backseat.

9. Take Care Driving at Night

In Connecticut, the teen driving curfew is 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Considering this group is three times more likely to get into an accident at night, driving after dark should be a privilege that’s earned after being consistently safe during the day.

10. Continue to Emphasize Safety

Highlight the importance of giving other drivers space. Make sure your teen abides by the three-second rule to provide some breathing room, should traffic suddenly stop. Further emphasize awareness of your surroundings. Knowing what’s in front and around your vehicle can help your teen respond better to changing traffic conditions.

Obtaining a driver’s license is just the beginning of a long journey. Continued practice helps your teen become a more responsive, alert driver. As a parent, you should practice what you preach. Avoid driving distracted and speeding if you want your teen to do the same.

Do you have a new teen driver in your household? Add them to your existing auto coverage or consider taking out a separate policy before they get on the road. To discuss the available options, contact a HUB/Ion Insurance agent today.