Driving comes with the acceptance of risk. But we all have a role to play in limiting those risks and making the roadway a safer place for all. This is why teenage road safety is such an important point to drive home.
Getting your license is a huge step for independence and teenagers experiencing such freedoms are suddenly thrust into a whole new realm of possibilities. Mistakes will be made but when it comes to driving, those mistakes can turn deadly quickly.
Auto insurance in Texas costs more for teenage drivers than any other demographic, and there’s an obvious reason for it. Teens are more likely to be involved in an accident, resulting in higher premiums. Safe driving can help limit risks, lower premiums, and creates a safer environment for everyone on the road.
Below, we’re breaking down teenage driver safety, the threats found on the road, the role parents can play in helping teens stay safe when driving, and how to save money on coverage by driving responsibly.
Teenage Road Safety Benefits All Drivers on the Road
Teenage road safety is the cornerstone for success with young drivers. But because teens lack the maturity, skills, and experience necessary to handle the same level of driving responsibility as adults, the results can sadly mean a higher rate of fatal crashes.
While an exciting time, newer drivers are still learning how to do many different things, including the basics. Therefore, mistakes are more likely but damage can be minimized when safety takes priority behind the wheel.
For an experienced driver, it may feel obvious which threats persist while on the road, but teens haven’t had the first-hand experience yet and are still figuring it out. This is why it’s important to review these threats early and often.
Below, we’ve broken down the main threats that teen drivers may face and the outcomes they can produce. However, through safe driving habits, such threats can be mitigated or avoided altogether.
The Main Threats to Teenage Driver Safety
Safe driving for teenagers starts with understanding the risks they face. Younger drivers face many of the same high-risk factors and behaviors all drivers face, yet some are also unique.
Furthermore, even the threats that persist which are the same for all drivers, may present themselves in a different manner for younger drivers, but nevertheless, they exist all the same.
By looking at the threats to teenage road safety, everyone can better understand how to overcome these issues and create a safer roadway for everyone. Below, we’re breaking down the main threats to driving safely teen drivers will face each time they step behind the wheel:
Driving While Distracted
Teenage road safety doesn’t end with being aware of distracted driving, but it sure does start with it. This is because, above all, distracted drivers cause more accidents than anything else, and it goes much further than sending a text.
The truth is, the rise of smartphones has created many more distractions for drivers on the go, especially teens. But the problem has been around for much longer than the ability to check your social media or view cute animal videos from the palm of your hand.
Teens may love creating and viewing content from a variety of platforms, but in real life, distractions still persist. This includes:
- Having friends riding in the car.
- Adjusting their music, air conditioner, or any other vehicle setting.
- Grabbing a bite of fast food on the way to a destination.
- Simply daydreaming can be a distraction for drivers.
This problem is far more vast than the teenage demographic. Who among us hasn’t tried to sneak a text at a red light or change a song? But all of us are responsible for driving safely and avoiding such dangerous activities while operating a motor vehicle.
There are many more examples that exist. It can be as simple as putting on makeup or using your GPS when navigating traffic. If it takes your eyes off of the road and attention away from driving, it’s best left for later and it’s important that your teen understands there is no exception.
Speeding and Wreckless Driving
While driving distracted continues to evolve as an issue, a tale as old as the automobile itself continues to trend as well. Teens want to go fast.
There are several reasons for this ranging from inexperience to thrill-seeking, but the fact remains that in a sizable amount of accidents, speeding is an issue for teen drivers.
Driving will always come with dangers but speeding only amplifies them. It hinders the driver’s ability to react effectively, can provide dangerous conditions for those around, and creates a more destructive outcome in the event of a crash.
These risks compound even further when inclement weather or other unfavorable conditions present themselves and the more confidence teen drivers gain, the more likely they are to engage in speeding.
Not Using Seat Belts
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), 45% of fatalities in accidents involving teenagers came from teens not wearing a seatbelt. There are a few things that are even less encouraging about this information:
- This data was taken in 2021, a time in which traffic was a bit lower than normal due to lingering pandemic restrictions.
- Nationally, many reports show this figure to be closer to a 50%+ mark.
This means that at best, nearly half of the teens not wearing seatbelts during a serious accident have just taken their last ride. Both drivers and passengers need to be aware.
The feeling of invincibility in one’s youth can make the notion of such safety measures fail to feel as important as they should be. But teenage road safety is more than just how you drive, it’s what you do to protect yourself in case of the worst.
Driving Under the Influence
When it comes to drinking and driving, it’s never a good idea for anyone to do it, but for teens, things can be especially problematic. The good news is that most teens aren’t driving under the influence, but 10% of teen drivers still admit to drinking and driving.
In an ideal world, the number would be 0% but in reality, driving under the influence remains a core issue for keeping young drivers safe on the road.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that while alcohol can be an easy target, using any substance while driving is never a good idea, yet remains an issue. This includes illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and any other mind-altering substance.
Since drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, there is never an excuse, and states adopt zero-tolerance policies that can lead to serious consequences, following teens well into adulthood.
But losing academic chances, paying fines, and even jail time pale mightily when compared to the prospect of hurting or killing someone, including the teen themselves. It’s important to explain the severity of such actions and to provide safe alternatives for teens to avoid this action at all costs.
It’s no secret that teens often sacrifice sleep due to their busy schedules, which can lead to fatigue, and driving while fatigued is a recipe for disaster.
Drowsy driving affects alertness, attention, reaction time, judgment, and decision-making, and poses a higher risk to drivers aged 17-23 who sleep less than six hours a night, drive on rural roads, or drive between midnight and 6:00 am in the morning.
To ensure safe driving, parents should ensure their teens get sufficient sleep and limit their nighttime driving in accordance with GDL laws.
You can analyze anything you’d like about teen driver safety but the simple fact remains that it takes time to develop skills. Driving is a skill and younger or new drivers are still learning not only the rules of the road but the many variables that come with driving a vehicle.
This includes making judgment calls, understanding how different vehicles operate, applying the skills they’ve learned to real-world applications, driving in different weather conditions, and much more.
It’s one thing to cruise with an experienced teacher around a local, familiar area, and another when you have to hit the freeway in an unknown part of town. Furthermore, any number of scenarios are going to take place eventually and can cause misjudgments and errors.
Overconfidence combined with ignorance and inexperience is also a dangerous combination. This can lead to improper technique, risky behavior, and unsafe driving practices that result in an accident.
In many endeavors, we are afforded the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them. While this remains true while driving, the stakes are much higher and can result in expensive or deadly consequences, further highlighting the importance of practice.
How Parents and Guardians Influence Teen Safe Driving Habits
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 2,276 people killed due to fatal crashes involving teen drivers in 2020 alone. A figure that can be reduced through proper driving habits from teens and adults alike.
To help keep your teen safe behind the wheel, you’ll also want to understand the graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws in your state. This can help you establish ground rules, such as restricting night driving, the number of passengers, and prohibiting the use of electronics.
But above all else, being a good role model will go a long way, along with taking your teen on practice driving sessions. Combined, you’ll set the standards of what good driving habits look like.
This is important not only for keeping your teen safe but also for creating a safer roadway for us all. All of the safe driving tips for new drivers in the world won’t do any good if actions aren’t speaking louder than words.
Three Teen Driving Tips All Drivers Should Follow
Every household is going to operate differently and only the parent or guardian of the teen driver will know what ultimately works best. But there are common sense approaches that can be universally applied for safer outcomes. Here are three teen driving safety tips you should consider:
1. Set Consequences and Stick With Them
It’s one thing to have rules but another to enforce them. The key is to find a fair balance of reasonable guidelines, and reasonable consequences, clearly state each, and enforce them as necessary. They should focus on eliminating or limiting potential threats to safe driving, including:
- Set rules about electronic devices while driving to discourage use. It can be a good idea to invest in vehicles with a focus on hands-free technology if purchasing a new vehicle is a consideration for your family.
- Seat belts being worn at all times is a must and driving under the influence should never be tolerated by anyone.
- A curfew can help avoid drowsy driving by your teen while keeping them out of other unfavorable circumstances.
- It’s also important to set geographical barriers to help teens gain their barrings and learn a bit more as they grow their experience.
- Limiting the number of passengers your teen can have in their vehicle can also help limit distractions.
Whatever the rules, you’ll need to be consistent, fair, and ready to enforce them should your teen breach them.
2. Set An Example
You can say whatever you like, but one of the most underrated safe driving tips for teens is to simply set a good example as an adult. Teen drivers are going to hear you but they are going to replicate what you do when they see it being applied. This means:
- Going the speed limit and not 5 to 10 mph over it.
- Coming to a complete stop at stop signs.
- Wearing your seatbelt even as a passenger.
- Forgoing the use of your phone or other devices while driving, even at red lights.
- Using proper driving techniques.
- Taking your time when merging and practicing other defensive driving techniques.
- Maintaining a safe distance between vehicles for proper braking.
- Never driving under the influence.
- Maintaining your composure and conducting yourself honorably while on the road.
- Adhering to any other highway guideline is either the law or simply a good driving habit.
3. Be Active in Training and Education
Education and training are crucial for helping your teen become a safe driver. Ensure they receive proper education and training, including driver’s education classes and supervised practice driving.
But again, parents can lead by example and set a precedent for their teens to take training seriously. Most states require 40-50 hours of supervised driving practice before an intermediate license is granted, and it’s important to fulfill these hours in different situations to prepare for independent driving.
Be sure to review the coursework and to help your teen by taking time to go over questions, build good study habits, and provide time for real-life driving experiences they may experience on the exam and while on the road.
You’ll also want to train them for uncommon driving scenarios, as well as common ones. For example, parallel parking, what to do when a stop light is broken, or unfavorable weather conditions that present negative driving conditions as a result.
How Teenage Road Safety Saves You Money
Driving safely isn’t just the right thing to do, but can also save you money in the process. This comes in several ways, such as:
- You’re less likely to pay for repairs because of an accident when driving safely.
- Speeding or failing to wear a seatbelt, for example, can cost you due to fines and tickets. The same goes for distracted driving.
- Fewer tickets and accidents mean fewer claims. Safer drivers that go for longer periods of time between getting moving violations or getting into an accident enjoy lower premiums for auto insurance.
There really is no benefit for not practicing safe driving techniques and teens need to understand the consequences that follow when they forgo these methods. The results can be expensive, regretful, and even deadly.
If you’re in need of auto insurance coverage in Texas for your teen, Freedom Insurance Group can help. Because we’ve partnered with top-rated insurance companies, we can compare your rates and find the lowest premium available.
This includes matching your coverage with the best discounts available and because there are multiple brands working with us, you have access to more discounts for more savings. An important factor due to the expensive nature of car insurance for teenagers.