It may feel as though summer has just started, but school will be starting back up soon enough, and it is never too early to think about back to school driving. Less experienced teenage drivers will be driving back and forth from school during early morning and afternoon rush hours, often in heavy traffic with aggressive drivers. This year may be even worse, post-pandemic, since people who have been shut in are out and about again, and buildings, schools, and businesses are finally reopened. People are eager to get back out and may not be paying as much attention to their surroundings. Drivers, especially teenagers, who are out of practice need to brush up on their defensive driving skills well in advance before heading out on the roads. It is hoped that driving safely and thoughtfully will help young motorists avoid having a car accident.
What Should Teens Do Before Starting the Engine?
Tired drivers get into more accidents than other drivers, so getting a good night’s sleep before an early morning drive is vital. Teenagers are known to stay up late, whether it be due to playing video games, hanging out with friends. or texting. A week before school starts, parents can help them establish better routines; going to bed earlier and waking up earlier for those few days can help reset their internal clocks so they can be more rested and wider awake in the early hours. Here is another good way to prepare: Teen drivers can do a test run a day or so before, driving the car to and from the school to get a feel for the trip.
Early on, teenage drivers should get into the habit of buckling up as soon as they sit in the driver’s seat. It is well known that teenagers and young adults wear seat belts less often than adults do, and this is a real safety hazard. It is also crucial to avoid any kind of distractions while driving, so putting the cell phone on Do not disturb is a must. This is very difficult for parents to enforce, but they should stress its importance to their teens time and time again until it sinks in. Using a GPS, talking to other passengers, and changing radio stations are also distracting, as are eating, drinking, and grooming while behind the wheel.
More Important Back to School Driving Tips
So many car accidents happen because drivers are late getting to their destinations, and teenagers are no exception. Instead of a crazy morning rush on school days, teens can prepare the night before by choosing their outfits, organizing their backpacks, making sure the car has enough gas in it, and putting the car keys in the same spot. Alarm clocks can be set for 10 minutes early to allow them added time in case something goes wrong, such as a lost assignment or a stained shirt.
Being late can also lead to aggressive driving, and this applies to other drivers who might share the route. It is widely accepted that teen males who are under 19 are more aggressive than other drivers, but one never knows what kind of driver will choose to act out. Teenagers should be reminded to remain calm when driving, even if someone else cuts them off, runs a red light, or is speeding.
The streets may also be full of slow-moving school buses during a teenager’s daily commute. This means having to pay extra attention and following the rules, knowing when to slow down, stop, and start around these large yellow vehicles. Buses stop frequently, and drivers need to be patient, with everyone’s safety first and foremost in mind. Teens may also have to drive through crosswalks, which can be full of students and other pedestrians in the mornings or afternoons. These pedestrians have the right of way, and this needs to be respected.
Maintaining proper following distances, always driving the speed limit, and remembering to use turn signals should also be discussed in detail with new teenage drivers. Intersections can also be tricky, especially if there are no traffic signals; understanding which vehicle has the right of way is also important in order to avoid accidents. If there is a signal, teenagers should remember to check that the intersection is clear before proceeding on a green light. Some intersections are marked: No turn on red, and they should be aware of this as well.
Sad Driving Statistics
These back to school driving tips are being shared because teen driving statistics are sobering. It is a well-known fact that automobile accidents are the main cause of death and disability in teenagers. Approximately two out of every three killed in crashes are male, and accidents occur in all types of weather, including sunny, clear days.
Drivers are not the only ones who are hurt or killed in teen driving accidents. In 2019, approximately 78 percent of car accident deaths involving teenagers were passenger vehicle occupants. The risk for having a fatal crash goes up proportionately to the number of teenagers who are in the car. This is a good reason to not allow teenagers to drive anywhere with a carload of their friends. Close to 30 percent of teen car accidents in 2019 involved speeding, and it is not unusual for a teen driver to be encouraged to drive faster by their friends.
The very thought of a car full of teenagers driving to school, on their cell phones, joking around, running through stop signs, and breaking other traffic laws can be frightening. Teen drivers who have spent time with their parents and caregivers going over driving safety rules and defensive driving skills may be less likely to end up hurt driving to school.
How Else can I Protect My Teen Driver?
Driving in the dark can be dangerous for drivers of all ages, and teens who think they are invincible can easily get into trouble driving at night. Some states have graduated driver’s license programs, which set driving curfew times, require driving supervision until a certain age, and/or limit the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle. Otherwise, parents can let their teens drive the car only during daylight hours, even if there are a lot of objections.
Keeping the car in good condition can also prevent accidents. A bald tire can cause a blowout, an old battery could die, or something else dangerous could happen while an inexperienced teen is driving. Regular tune-ups and checks on oil and air pressure are very important, and teens can pitch in and learn how to do these things themselves to learn about responsibility. Having teens help to pay for gas and asking for their help with keeping the car clean will also make them feel more invested in the car and might make them drive more carefully to protect it.
As a final note, teenage drivers do get into accidents, and it can be very frightening for them and their loved ones. Parents should not automatically assume whose fault it was and attend to the teen’s immediate medical needs first. The teenager can share their version of what happened, and if a car accident lawyer is needed, they should be contacted as soon as possible.
Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC are Here to Help Drivers of All Ages Who Were Involved in Automobile Accidents
Inexperienced drivers are more likely to get into accidents, and with the 2021 school year approaching, parents can help their teenaged drivers brush up on their skills. Should an accident occur, do not hesitate to reach out to the knowledgeable Delaware car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We offer free consultations and helpful advice. Call us today at 302-888-1221 or contact us online. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients in Dover, Newark, and Middletown.