Spring and Summer Safety Tips for Teen Drivers

When there’s great weather in Wisconsin, everyone wants to go for a drive — especially newly licensed teens. If you’re a teen or the parent of a teen, it’s important to know the rules of the road along with some additional safety tips that can help inexperienced drivers prevent accidents.

Westway Auto Body wishes you a fun and safe summer of driving with these important safe driving ideas for teens.

Buckle up

Wearing a seatbelt is usually the first safety rule that comes to mind while driving, but many teens will skip it instead of clicking it. There is a myth that seatbelts might cause more harm in an accident, especially for back seat passengers — but the fact is that seatbelts save lives.

Important statistic: 60 percent of fatal accidents for 16- to 20-year-olds involve the victims not wearing seatbelts at the time of the collision.

Put the phone away

Both talking and texting on a cell phone while driving are highly distracting, especially for inexperienced drivers. Keep in mind that if someone calls or texts you while you’re driving, it’s not important enough to get injured or die for. You can wait to answer until you’ve stopped.

Important statistic: Distraction kills 11 percent of drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal accidents.

It’s a speed “limit” for a reason

Many young adults feel the impulsive need to speed, or simply don’t pay attention to how fast they’re going. But following the speed limit is vital — even if your speeding doesn’t cause an accident, another driver may make a mistake and you won’t be able to slow down to avoid a collision.

Important statistic: 37 percent of male drivers between the ages of 10 and 20 involved in fatal accidents were speeding.

Never drink and drive

Alcohol impairs your ability to react, even if you “just” have one drink. And alcohol even in small amounts affects teens more quickly and stronger than it does adults. In addition, the legal blood alcohol limit for teen drivers is zero percent — so if you manage to avoid an accident, but get pulled over, you’ll be facing stiff fines and jail time.

Important statistic: One out of every three fatal accidents involves a driver who is alcohol impaired.

Limit your passengers

In the summer especially, the temptation is strong to pile all of your friends in the car and head for fun. The problem is that a car full of teens is a huge distraction for the inexperienced driver — not to mention the urge to “show off” and take risks. Limit the number of teen passengers in your car. The risk of a fatal crash is directly related to that number, and you’ll want both yourself and your friends to arrive alive.

Important statistic: With three or more teen passengers, the fatal crash risk for teen or beginning drivers is 4 times higher than the risk for a solo teen driver.

Restrict your night driving

Driving when you’re tired is dangerous for anyone and especially for an inexperienced driver. Exhaustion can impair your reactions as much as alcohol, and that’s a risk you don’t want to take. Avoid driving long distances at night, or driving home from a very late activity if possible. The later it gets, the more dangerous the drive.

Important statistic: 17 percent of fatal teen crashes in 2010 occurred between the hours of 9 p.m. and midnight and 24 percent of them occurred between midnight and 6 a.m.