Teen Driver Awareness Month: 5 Dangers To Teen Drivers | @The FIRM Rally School

Teen Driver Awareness Month: 5 Dangers To Teen Drivers

January is National Teen Driver Awareness Month and we’re sharing 5 major factors that put your teenage driver at risk.  Teen drivers are at risk of preventable injuries and fatalities on the road.

Why?

Inexperience and distractions!

Parents will pay the price for their teen’s driving choices. Just one accident or ticket can easily increase insurance rates by over $600 a year. Fender benders are often out of pocket expenses. These are just some of the lower risk penalties parents face!

So, we encourage parents to invest now, to save later! Here’s what you need to know about risk factors teen drivers face and here’s what parents can do about it!

 

National Teen Driver Awareness Month and Beyond

Do you or your teen know what puts them at risk when they’re in the driver’s seat? We’re sharing 5 factors that put teen drivers at risk and what you, as a parent, can do to mitigate some of those dangers.

1) Lack of Experience

Surface changes, large puddles, and crazy squirrels provide everyday challenges.  Often, teens don’t understand how to adapt quickly.

In high-stress situations while under extreme pressure teens lack the experience to react safely to these everyday road hazards. How would they? This is the first time they have been faced with this situation.

Due to their lack of experience, teens are more likely to underestimate dangerous situations. In fact, they may fail to even recognize danger. Often times a teen encounters danger for the first time behind the wheel without any prior experience.

A lack of experience can turn an everyday hazard into a potentially fatal situation. A teen may freeze up, overreact, underreact, or react in ways that put them in more danger.

Teens are more likely to make fatal errors because they lack basic training and have not developed the skills to adapt under pressure in a safe measured way.

What can a parent do?

Let’s face it most teens will overestimate their ability on the road. They may even believe a license is somehow proof they can drive!

Some teens may go to the other extreme and lack the confidence they need to be a competent driver.

As parents, we understand “telling a teen” about “dangers” is usually not enough to motivate understanding, to modify behavior, or to build their confidence.

We learn when we do.

When we do, we gain experience.

When we gain experience, we feel more confident.

Experience, skills, and confidence prepare drivers to react wisely under pressure. This is why The FIRM provides our Teen Driving Course. Even though this course is our loss leader, we strongly believe our program makes roads safer for your teen and prepares them for all the hazards they will face as a new driver.

2) Speeding

Teens are notorious for oversleeping. And, we all know what comes of our commute when we’re late.

The other hazard is teens’ brains are not fully developed and are easily distracted. Teens often speed without intention. It is a lack of awareness and the ability to manage so much data simultaneously; other cars, lights, sounds, mental maps of where to go and how to get there, ease on the brakes, press on the gas, look in the mirrors, turn on the blinker, steer in the lane.

Even more of a challenge is teens integrating all this new data at a time when their internal mental chatter is often at its highest.

Most teens have not learned how to quiet the mind.

How to be present in the moment.

How to tune out distractions and fully focus on their surroundings.

What can a parent do?

Safe drivers must be organized.

Many of us have teens and we’ve gathered a lot of “tips” from other parents over the years. Here are some tips to help you!

Ask your teen what route they plan to take, have them map it, and review how long it will take. It takes extra parental engagement but a proactive pre-plan will help the teen organize their time more effectively.

In the short term, parents may need to help their teens get up earlier. Some parents have a “no technology” rule after 11:00 p.m. to encourage a less nocturnal sleep schedule; especially during summer and vacation periods.

Strange as it may be, most professional drivers are actually great at meditation. Meditation is a state where you are fully present in the moment. Where you learn to tune out “distractions” and fully engage with the task at hand. We often describe this as “becoming one” with the road. Even if meditation is a bridge too far, help your teen get centered, take 10 breaths, slow down, think about their route, and be in a calm state before they hop in the car!

3) Seat Belt Use

According to the CDC, teens have the lowest rate of seatbelt use of any age group, whether they’re passengers or drivers.

What can a parent do?

Set the example. Always buckle.

We encourage you to watch the following videos with your teen. It has been proven that personalizing a story has a more profound impact than just providing data.

4) Alcohol Use

Although there is a decline in the rate of teenage drinking and driving since 1991, the CDC indicates that 1 on 10 teens in high school still drinks and drives.

What can a parent do?

Make it safe, no matter what, to “call for help” no questions asked.

You can also make sure they download a car service and/or have a taxi service saved in their phone with a $100 credit for any type of emergency. This is great if the “Call for help – no questions asked” might not work for your family.

The goal is to make sure your teen has as many “safe choices” as possible, that are easily accessible, to lower the risk they drive while impaired.

5) Nighttime Driving

There are increased crash risks for all drivers with regard to nighttime driving. This risk is higher for young and inexperienced drivers.

Since visibility is lower at night, drivers must have quicker reaction times. Hazards (sleepy or intoxicated drivers), animals, or even debris in the road become harder to see and therefore harder to avoid.

What can a parent do?

Since practice makes perfect, night drive with your teen often before they get their license. The more practice with you present, the more experience they will gain with guidance. Each state already has a curfew. Stick with the curfew to avoid teens out when other drivers are more likely to be out of control.

We take your teen’s safety seriously, not just during National Teen Driving Awareness Month. If you want help to build your teen’s confidence, develop their skills, and prepare them for real-world experience in a safe environment, then book a Teen Driving Class at The FIRM today.

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html

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