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Teen Driving Tips
12/11/09

FRIENDS KILLING FRIENDS.  That's right.  About two out of three teen passengers killed in crashes were riding with a teen driver – a friend or classmate who took a chance with their lives.

And, while drugs, alcohol and driving don't mix, the truth is that 69 percent of drivers age 15 to 20 killed in crashed where NOT under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  In most cases, the lack of time behind the wheel, and the lack of experience in different kinds of driving situations, cause the vast majority of teen deaths in car crashes.

So, just like you wouldn't be good at sports, or school, or any of the things that you are good at without practice and training, driving is the same way.  Check out some of these ways to be good at driving and keep you and your friends, safe and alive.

  • Driving may seem easy, but it's a complex skill.  You need good vision and brain-eye-hand coordination and the ability to divide your attention between several things.
  • Keep your eyes moving.  Keep your eyes up to see what's happening several cars ahead.  Stay alert for motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians and skaters who are more difficult to see.
  • Leave at least a 20 second cushion between you and the car in front of you.  It should take you two to four seconds to pass a fixed point after the car in front of you does.  This buys you time to react to anything that driver does, like stop suddenly.
  • Don't assume others will follow traffic rules.   You never know what another driver will do.  So, for example, when the light turns green, you still need to look left-right-left.  Another driver could be running the red light, or a pedestrian may be about to cross in front of you.
  • Think about what other drivers are doing.  What could happen?  What are your options?  Example: if someone cuts in front of you to make an exit, they'll probably be hitting their brakes soon. So, you should slow down and make sure to keep your 2 to 4 second cushion.
  • Always be aware of where your "out" is.  If you had to, could you move left, right, speed up, slow down?  Check your mirrors.
  • Mind your blind spot.  Beat the blind spot; quickly turning to check your blind spot before switching lanes and staying out of the other drivers blind spots – if you can't see the driver's face in his or her rear or side view mirrors, he or she probably can't see you.
  • Learn from your mistakes.  When you have a close call, think about what happened and focus on the factors that caused the situation (speed, tailgating, distraction, right-of-way, etc.) and what you can do to prevent it.

THE TEN MOST COMMON DRIVING MISTAKES

  1. Excessive speed.
  2. Failure to wear a seatbelt.
  3. Not paying attention.
  4. Distraction inside the car.
  5. Inadequate defensive driving techniques.
  6. Incorrect assumptions about the other driver.
  7. Tailgating or not leaving enough space between vehicles.
  8. Entering traffic flow without properly checking for other cars.
  9. Pulling into the passing lane without enough distance between cars.
  10. Not checking behind for oncoming cars when pulling away from the curb.
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