The Top 4 Mistakes New Drivers Make, & How to Avoid Them
It’s no secret that teen drivers are some of the most dangerous drivers on the road. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Lack of experience earns them the title, but there are precautions teens can take to stay safe on the road.
The newly licensed are the most inexperienced drivers on the road, and because of that, they are demographic that’s most likely to get in accidents. For a new driver, every “first time” is a new chance to panic. First U-Turn. First broken traffic light. First tailgater. The good news is, the more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be. And every minute you spend driving safely and incident-free, you’re slowly becoming a better driver. The bad news is you have to really concentrate at first.
WHAT TO DO: Practice makes perfect. Spend more time on the road, with a supervising driver. Ask questions. Most driver education state programs have a minimum number of behind-the-wheel hours. This is a minimum. You are always free to exceed this amount.
Teens are – by far – the most distracted demographic on the road. Ten years ago, teen drivers didn’t have Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, and dozens of other social media outlets vying for their attention. The result of this has been not only a surge in tickets issued for distracted driving, and dozens of new laws enacted to help prevent distracted driving, but also a sharp spike in the number of distracted-driving deaths – particularly among teens.
WHAT TO DO: If you feel the phone beckoning to you, and every incoming text must be checked, lock the phone in the trunk before you get in the drivers seat. There have been thousands of deaths that resulted from people checking their phones. There have not, thus far, been any documented deaths from not replying right away. The lesson: It can wait.
Failure to Care for the Car
A car is probably the most expensive thing a teen can own, and along with it comes some added responsibility. Yes, cars need gasoline, but they also need regular maintenance. Oil needs changing, tires need rotating, transmission fluid needs flushing, and more. It can be tough to remember it all, but it’s a habit that will help keep you safe. Hitting the regular maintenance checkpoints can also save you lots of money, by replacing parts that are worn out before they can cause other, more expensive problems.
WHAT TO DO: Keep a checklist and pay attention to your mileage. Or, for the tech-savvy, there are several car maintenance apps that can help you keep track of your regular services.
Developing Bad Habits
This one’s on your parents, or whoever you grew up in a car with, and can range from tailgating to speeding to anything in between. Not wearing a seat belt is a common bad habit that parents have handed down to their children. Did you know that seat belts weren’t mandatory in cars until 1966?
WHAT TO DO: Parents – lead by example. Keep a comfortable distance between your car and the car in front of you. Drive in a manner that won’t get you a ticket. And, of course, wear your seat belt. Even if you never talk about it directly, your child grows up watching you from the back seat. Think about how that looks.
Ultimately, it all boils down to awareness. If you’re paying attention, you should do fine. And knowing these pitfalls will help you to avoid them down the road.