For many teenagers, learning to drive is an important rite of passage. Having that license tucked away in their wallet unlocks the gate toward the gradual freedom and independence that comes with it.
But the statistics are sobering: teen drivers have the highest crash risk of any age group. Drivers aged 18-25 represent only 10-15 per cent of all licensed drivers but are involved in one out of four road deaths. For example, an 18-year-old with a license is four times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a 26-year-old.
As a parent, guardian, elder of the family you can play an active and crucial role in your teenager’s driving lessons. Here are seven road safety tips to share with your teen to encourage them to be better, safer drivers.
1. Wear Your Safety Belt
Insist that your teen always wears a safety belt, even for short trips to the shops. According to the research, you’re 10 times more likely to be severely injured in a road crash if you’re not wearing a seat belt.
Seat belts work because they distribute forces from a crash across the chest and pelvis, some of the strongest parts of the body. So that belt could mean the difference between getting a few bruises versus your body flying into the windscreen.
2. Put the Phone Away
While driving the individual shouldn’t be allowed to use the phone as the physical, visual and cognitive distraction leads to unsafe driving and increases the odds of a crash. Before starting the car, have your phone on silent and put it out of reach. If they need to use the phone, stop and park where using a mobile phone won’t be a danger to themselves or to other road users.
According to researchers, each time a driver writes and sends a text; his or her eyes are off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, enough time to drive the length of a game pitch. Remind teenagers that it’s their job to watch the road when driving, and no one else can do it for them.
3. Stick to the Speed Limit
Speeding is the biggest killer of young drivers, they should remember that there’s no pressure to keep up with other vehicles in traffic. Keeping to the speed limit will not only reduce the risk of an accident but also help drivers avoid costly traffic fines.
4. Check Your Blind Spot Every Time
Side and rear mirrors do a good job of showing what’s happening behind the vehicle. However, they still leave areas big enough for other cars, bikes and people that we cannot see that easily. That’s why drivers should check their blind spots whenever they are:
● pulling out from the curb
● Parking or leaving a parked position
● during a three-point turn
● merging with other traffic
● Changing lanes (e.g. when passing or overtaking)
● turning, where you’ve seen another car
It’s also possible to minimize the size of a blind spot by adjusting the side mirrors so that your own car is out of sight.
5. Sleep, Then Drive
Do you know that driving sleepy can be just as dangerous as driving intoxicated? Sleepiness impairs a person’s attention, working memory and coordination skills, all crucial for safe driving.
An estimated 15 per cent of crashes are caused by fatigued driving, according to research Chris Watling. “Young drivers don’t view the dangers of sleepy driving equally, despite the crash risks being similar.”
Teaching the teens the warning signs of sleep driving, these include daydreaming, difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, heavy eyelids and trouble keeping the head up. Let them know it’s OK to pull over for a 20-minute power nap, and then again get back on the road more rested.
6. Turn on Your Headlights
While it’s an obvious thing to do at night, having your headlights on during the day can make it easier for other drivers to see you. This can be particularly helpful during times when the sun affects visibility (e.g. driving in the early morning or evening).
Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson points out: “You can’t control the other drivers on the road. However, by having your lights on during the day, you can make sure other drivers see you before a collision take place.”
While learning to drive, one thing the parent and guardian needs to ensure is to get the car insured, because a person can only control how they drive but cannot be responsible for how the other person drives on the road, to create a cushion against the known-unknown-risk, it’s better to be covered so the beginner driving does not have to worry about not just hitting his own car but other person car as well , so insurance works as not only having a cushion but also sharing the risks as well with the insurance provider, so before you give the car to your child, nephew, younger siblings make sure the car is insured, reducing the chance of your wallet being heavily affected in times of crises.
As important is the phase to learn to drive, more important is to drive safe and get a license, driving without license is illegal and a criminal offense, as before you learn you learn to drive to get a learners license and after you have learnt to drive, apply for a permanent driving license so it’s a bearing proof that you are qualified to drive on road independently, you are familiar with all the traffic rules and regulations