Defensive Driving Tactics for Teen Drivers

It’s no secret that teens are the most at-risk drivers on the road. Countless studies show that teen drivers face a higher risk for traffic accidents than any other age group. In fact, 33% of deaths among people ages 13-19 are due to motor vehicle crashes.

Aside from being inexperienced, young drivers are also particularly susceptible to distraction from passengers and from their devices. Fatality rates for drivers ages 16 and 17 actually increase with each additional passenger they have in their vehicle. In a survey by AT&T, 97% of teens agreed that texting while driving is dangerous, yet 43% admitted to still texting and driving despite understanding the dangers.

Teens also tend to underestimate dangerous situations, or fail to recognize dangers on the road. They are more likely than adults to make critical decision errors behind the wheel, which often leads to serious accidents. Moreover, teen drivers are more likely to speed and tailgate, and they have the lowest rates of seat belt use of all driver age groups.

With all of these dangers, how do you keep your teen drivers safe? It can definitely be a challenge to help teens become good drivers. However, the more time and involvement you can dedicate to your teen’s driving education, the better off they will be behind the wheel.

Here are 5 defensive driving techniques to teach teen drivers:

  1. Keeping a safe following distance. Because tailgating is a frequent problem for teen drivers, it is important to emphasize the need to keep a safe following distance. The distance should be about four to six seconds between their car and the one in front of them. Remind teens that this distance gives them a safe amount of space to brake, should traffic ahead of them abruptly stop. This is especially important on highways and anywhere they will be traveling at high speeds.
  2. Understanding ABS braking. ABS braking is a crucial safety component in modern vehicles, but it is a tough concept for new drivers to understand unless they practice. Because there is a “skidding” sensation when the system engages, new drivers may be fearful of hitting the brakes too hard—which is not good in a situation that requires emergency braking. Help your teen become efficient at braking by getting in plenty of practice in a remote area where they aren’t at risk of crashing into other vehicles.
  3. Driving in adverse weather. Southern California drivers are notorious for driving poorly in the rain, which does not come as a huge surprise considering the climate. Car accidents skyrocket in Southern California practically any time there is a rainstorm. Thus, it is important to prepare your teenager to drive in bad weather, as the situation will inevitably arise at some point for them.
  4. Following the speed limit. Unfortunately, teen drivers tend to speed, increasing their risk of crashes and injuries. Among serious crashes caused by teen driver error, 21% of crashes were related to speeding. Oftentimes, these accidents are not even due to intentional risk-taking. A study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia revealed that most speed-related accidents involving teen drivers are caused by lack of driving skills and inexperience. This indicates that parents need to help their teens learn to manage their speed according to traffic and road conditions. Don’t just tell your teen not to speed: show them the proper way to maintain appropriate speeds while on the road. For instance, instead of simply saying “Slow down,” it can be helpful to give cues such as, “Ease up on the gas pedal now while we approach this intersection.” Of course, intentional speeding still contributes to many teen accidents. Remind your teen driver that even small increases in speed can increase the severity of a crash, so following the speed limit is crucial.
  5. Safely changing lanes and passing. Make sure your teen driver is comfortable with lane changes. Teach them to check their blind spots and to ensure they have enough room to safely make the change. Also teach them how to safely pass vehicles that are hazardous—such as those that are swerving or driving too slow for conditions—but to remain patient and only pass when it is necessary and safe to do so.

It can be a scary thing to pass the car keys to your teen and watch them begin their journey toward independence. Equipping your teen with defensive driving habits that will help ease that transition and empower them to make the right decisions behind the wheel.

“Teen drivers need plenty of instruction behind the wheel to prepare them for the real world of driving independently. Providing them with defensive driving techniques is an important part of helping them become good drivers,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured in an auto accident and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, El Centro, and Yucca Valley, and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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