It can be an exciting but unsettling time when you’re teenager turns 16 and gets behind the wheel. Questions may be flooding your mind, like how do you keep your teen driver safe? What are the best teen driving safety tips and safety tips for new drivers?
CPI Security recently rolled out CPI Drive, a product that will alert you to a car’s diagnostics and any unsafe driving behaviors. Since launching CPI Drive, one of the best ways we’ve seen it put to use is to monitor new drivers. A teen-driving tracker like CPI Drive may be what eases your mind, but we’ve also rounded up several other safety tips to consider before your teen puts the car in drive.
Teen Driving Statistics
Consider these sobering statistics:
- Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers, representing over one-third of all deaths, according to the CDC.
- Teen drivers aged 16-19 are almost three times as likely to be in a fatal crash as drivers 20 or older, per mile driven, according to the CDC.
- In 2019, 2,042 people were killed in car crashes involving a driver 15-18 years old, according to the NHTSA.
- 45% of teen drivers who died in 2019 weren’t wearing seatbelts, according to the NHTSA.
- In 27% of the fatal crashes involving teen drivers (ages 15-18) in 2019, speeding was a factor, according to the NHTSA.
- 16% of teen drivers (ages 15-18) involved in fatal car accidents in 2019 had been drinking prior to the crash, according to the NHTSA.
Teen Driving Safety Tips
This may leave you with questions such as what are the best cars for teenagers, what do you need to know about teen driver safety, and whether you should use a teen driving tracker to ease your mind? With these teenage driver safety questions in mind, here are our best driving tips for new drivers, and their parents.
- Get to know your car.
- Adjust your car to fit your teen best.
- Have your teen practice driving often.
- Stay calm when riding with your teenager.
- Teach your teen about driving any time you are in the car together.
- Set a good example with your own driving.
- Remove all driving distractions.
- Don’t follow other cars too closely.
- Don’t drive too fast.
- Make seat belts mandatory.
- Follow the graduated licensing laws.
- Limit nighttime driving.
- Never drink and drive.
- Create a parent-teen driving agreement.
Get to know your car.
Before driving a new car, teens and adults alike should take time to get to know the car and how it functions. Before your teenager hits the road, spend some time with them going over your car’s features. Many cars have a reference guide to explain all the key features, or you can refer to the owner’s manual. You’ll want to make sure your teenager knows how to operate all the functions they will need most often, such as the turn signals, the windshield wipers, the headlights and taillights, and the heat and air. You’ll also want to make sure they know what all the indicator lights on the dash mean, and what they should do if one comes on. Confirm that they know how to fill the car up with gas as well!
If you want to go even further, teach your teenager about basic emergency car maintenance, such as how to check oil levels, check tire pressure or change a flat tire.
Adjust the car to fit your teen best.
Each time your teen gets in the car, they should adjust the car to fit them best. Show them how to adjust the seat, raise and lower the steering wheel, and set side and rearview mirrors for the best visibility.
Have your teen practice driving often.
Begin having your teen drive you around as soon as they get their learner’s permit. The more practice they have driving with an experienced adult in the car to help them drive safely, the more capable they will be to drive safely by themselves. The more hours they log behind the wheel with you, the better.
Stay calm when riding with your teenager.
On a similar note, stay calm when your teen is behind the wheel. While it may be instinctual to tense up or yell if you feel like they are approaching a stoplight too quickly or following a car too closely, strong reactions can be a big distraction for teenagers. New drivers are bound to make mistakes, and if it’s a mistake that needs to be addressed right away and you’re having trouble staying calm and collected, have your teen pull over to discuss it. And, as always with teenagers, keep any criticism constructive and use mistakes as opportunities to teach them the correct way to handle a situation.
Teach your teen about driving any time you are in the car together.
Whether your teen is driving or you are, riding in the car is a great time to learn more about driving. Instead of listening to music or podcasts in the car, turn off the radio and talk about what’s happening. Note any hazards you encounter, talk about when to brake for stoplights, when to slow down for a bit and how to handle other drivers. Teach them how to be a defensive driver by chatting through what is happening when you or they are driving.
Set a good example with your own driving.
Unfortunately, once we feel confident in our driving abilities, it can be easy to fall into bad habits. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 41% percent of teens say their parents continue these unsafe behaviors and bad habits even after they are asked to stop, and 28% say their parents justify unsafe driving behavior. Remember that parents are usually their teen’s biggest influences and role models. When driving with your teenager, make sure you are practicing all the habits and rules you want them to build and follow. In other words, drive the way you want them to drive.
Remove all driving distractions.
Simple distractions while driving can have devastating consequences. Eating, texting, talking on the phone, putting on makeup, and even changing the radio station can all take your attention away from the road. Safe driving requires all of your focus and attention, so make sure your teen knows to pull over if they need to send a text or eat a quick meal. This is a great area where you can set an example by removing all your distractions as well.
Don’t follow other cars too closely.
Maintaining a safe distance from other cars is an easy step teen drivers can take to stay safe on the road. Make sure your teenager knows that keeping a safe distance between them and other cars drastically reduces their chances of rear-ending someone by giving them enough space to come to a complete stop when needed.
Don’t drive too fast.
Speed limits are set with safety in mind, so sticking to them is key to teenage driving safety. However, make sure your teenager knows that at times they will need to drive below the speed limit. For example, in heavy traffic, they should drive at the same speed as the cars around them, even if that means they are driving at a snail’s pace. They should also know to slow down in rain or other hazardous conditions, when going downhill, and when going around tight curves in the road.
Make seat belts mandatory.
Seat belts are critical to staying as safe as possible in the event of a car crash. Make sure your teen knows that they must wear a seat belt to have the privilege of driving and that all their passengers must wear them as well.
Follow the graduated licensing laws.
Every state in the US has a graduated licensing law in place. These licensing limitations are known to reduce crash risks by as much as 50%, so following them is especially important for teen driving safety. Familiarize yourself with your teen’s driving restrictions based on their license, and make sure that they are following each of the rules or limitations in place. These restrictions typically dictate when teen drivers can drive and how many passengers they can carry.
Limit nighttime driving.
Nighttime driving isn’t as safe because of the reduced visibility, and this is especially true for teen drivers due to their inexperience. Your state’s graduated licensing structure probably accounts for this, but remember that you can also determine your own rules for when your teen is allowed to drive at night, even if they are legally allowed to drive. Make sure to spend time riding with your teen driver in the dark, making sure they know how to safely drive at night.
Make sure your teen knows not to drink and drive.
Underage drinking and illegal drugs can cause enough problems on their own, but mix them with driving and you’ve got an even bigger issue. Make sure your teenager knows to never get behind the wheel after drinking or ride with someone who has been drinking. Make sure to tell them that they can always feel comfortable calling you to come and get them if they are in an unsafe situation.
Create a parent-teen driving agreement.
While these safety tips sound great, we know they can be tough to enforce at times. We always recommend working with your child to create a parent-teen driving agreement. Lay out all your rules and expectations, and make sure that they know that breaking the agreement could lead to you taking away their license.
Teen Driving Tracker
CPI Security’s CPI Drive product is a great way to keep both your teen driver and your car safe. With this product, you’ll be able to track your car’s location, monitor its diagnostic health, and receive alerts for speeding and unsafe driving habits. This is a great option for keeping tabs on your teen’s driving habits and ensuring they are holding up their end of your parent-teen driving agreement.
For more tips to keep you and your family safe, visit the CPI Security blog.