The excitement and newfound freedom that comes with getting a driver’s license is something every new driver will experience, and a feeling no one forgets. While this is an exciting time, it is also time to move with extreme cautious. Car insurance for teenagers is higher, and for good reason: teenagers are involved in more car accidents.
While exciting, first-time driving can often be overwhelming too. Until now a parent, family member, or driving instructor has been seated next to you, instructing, helping to navigate traffic, keeping an eye out for potential problems, and able to take over if necessary. Though most teenagers cannot wait for their first solo adventure, there is also typically some trepidation at being alone in the car.
When it comes to driving, there is no such thing as being too safe. You have attended driving classes, taken behind-the-wheel instruction, followed your parents’ directions, and passed your driving exam. You are well-equipped with driving knowledge and full understanding of traffic rules, but it never hurts to familiarize yourself with driving safety tips again, and repeatedly, until they become second nature.
When you – and your freshly printed driver’s license – head out on your first trip, review and use these safety tips:
- Follow traffic rules: Obey all of the traffic signals and safety rules every time you are on the road. Follow the speed limit and leave adequate space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Pay attention to traffic signs and road markers and maintain complete alertness in construction zones to ensure the safety of those in your vehicle and those around you.
- Slow down: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that teenage drivers are the age group most likely to speed and travel too closely to the car in front of them. The less distance and more speed equal less time to stop in order to avoid an accident and increases the risk of more serious injuries in an accident. At 45 miles per hour and higher, the necessary braking distance is higher and raises incrementally with speed.
- Maintain the car: Making sure your car is in proper working order can help avoid breakdowns and accidents. Proper maintenance includes having plenty of gas in the tank, keeping proper tire pressure, regular oil changes, appropriate brake fluid and coolant levels, unworn brake pads, functional lights and wiper blades. Additionally, know your car. Read the manual, note where all the functions are and how to use them.
- Wear your seatbelt: Never drive without your seatbelt on and properly secured. This applies to everyone in your car. Make it a practice that you will not start the engine until everyone in the vehicle is buckled in, and make sure everyone who rides with you understands and will obey the rule. Those who will not follow your rules do not ride with you.
- Preadjust: Taking your hands off the wheel and your eyes off of the road to adjust mirrors, your seat, and the position of the steering wheel while driving is an accident waiting to happen. Adjust everything before leaving so you can keep your focus on the road while driving.
- Avoid distractions: Do not eat, drink, text, email, make calls, adjust the radio and other technology, play with pets or children, interact with friends, apply makeup, or perform any other activity than driving. Put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ mode, set the GPS and music, and wrap up important communications before starting the car and driving.
- Do not tailgate: Responsibility for rear-end accidents is almost always placed on the rear driver, meaning you could receive a traffic ticket and higher insurance rates to cover the car you hit and injuries the occupants of either car suffers. Many states are adopting laws that the rear driver is always faulted, regardless of what may have led to the accident.
- Use your indicators: Always use your turn signal to alert others where you intend to move, especially when making a lane change on an interstate or freeway.
- Be prepared: Accidents, emergencies, and breakdowns can happen to anyone, even when you are following all safety rules and precautions. We cannot control the actions of others on the road. Make sure you have an emergency kit in your car in case you find yourself in an emergency situation or having to spend extended time in your vehicle. Include hazard cones, jumper cables, flashlights, water and non-perishable snacks, blankets, and possibly road flares.
- Watch the weather: Weather conditions are a frequent cause of car accidents as rain, snow and ice alter the road’s surface and making it more challenging for your tires to connect with the road and harder for you to see. Braking takes longer than usual when the roads are wet, slushy, or iced over. If weather conditions are dangerous, avoid driving altogether if possible.
- No impaired driving: Under no circumstances should you ever get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Thousands die every year in the United States due to drivers under the influence. If you have been consuming alcohol or other substances, have a sober designated driver, call a friend or family member or a rideshare or taxi to pick you up.
- Relax: Yes, road rage is real. Do not be an aggressive and emotional driver. Sometimes we encounter drivers who make mistakes or do stupid things. Do not scream, gesture wildly or chase the other car.
- Drive defensively: Know who is around you at all times and pay attention to the behavior of other drivers. Try to avoid cars who are speeding or weaving in and out of traffic, especially on an interstate, and put extra distance between you.
- Practice parking: One part of driving that causes at least some level of anxiety for most new drivers is parking, especially parallel or rear end parking. To familiarize yourself and improve your skills, find a parking lot or side street with less cars and practice both maneuvers until you feel more comfortable and confident.
Bear Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help First-Time Drivers Involved in Car Accidents
One pinnacle of the teenage years is earning your driver’s license. It is an exciting time for new drivers – and a terrifying time for parents. Teenagers are far more likely to have car accidents than any other age group. If you are a new driver who has been involved in a car accident, whether your fault or someone else’s, the experienced Bear car accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help. Call us at 302-834-8484 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Bear, Delaware, we serve clients in Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.