Teen Driving Checklist

How safely are you driving? Do you know how your driving habits can cause accidents? Asking yourself these questions can save your life, and the lives of your friends (not to mention other drivers on the road!) Gary Tsifrin, the founder of DriversEd.com, has created this list of ways that teens can make sure they are staying safe on the road.

  1. Avoid distractions! These days, it’s difficult to be bored what with all the music, games and social media available constantly at our fingertips. It can be tempting to check in on Foursquare at your favorite intersection or tweet about the crazy you just saw on the side of the road, but these are dangerous distractions that can lead to a collision. Distracted driving contributes to 80% of collisions, so it’s not difficult to see why you should keep your eyes on the road.
  2. Don’t be a daredevil! Ignoring signs and changing lanes quickly without checking your blind spot is reckless driving that can cause a collision. Next time you are going to make a maneuver on the road, take a moment and do it the way that’s going to get you home safe, not the way that’s going to make your friends think you are Jason Bourne.
  3. Don’t speed!  The speed limits are there for a reason. Even though you might be late for school, it’s not worth the accident just to avoid detention.
  4. You aren’t driving a clown car! Studies have shown that with two passengers, teens are at double the risk of a fatal accident, and with three passengers it is nearly triple. Obviously, your friends aren’t literally going to make you get into an accident. What they will do is distract you, and cause you to drive more recklessly if you aren’t careful. Not to mention that teens are much likelier to pile more people into a car than it is meant to hold, causing even more danger to those passengers not buckled up.
  5. Don’t drive under the influence! Drinking and driving is even more dangerous for teens, because they are far less likely to call someone to come and pick them up if they are too drunk to drive. If you can’t call your parents, call an adult or friend that you trust to come and pick you up. They will be much happier that you are alive than angry that you got them out of bed, I promise.
  6. Don’t tailgate (outside CenturyLink!) The fact of the matter is, you just haven’t been driving as long as the other people on the road. That means that you haven’t had the experience to know how much time you need to stop at freeway speeds. Leave plenty of space so you can be sure not to rear-end anybody.
  7. Buckle up! It’s illegal in Washington State to drive without a seatbelt on, so you have the threat of a ticket to keep your seatbelt on.  Aside from that, though, it’s just smart to buckle up (plus it will make that annoying beeping in your car stop.)
  8. Wake up! Teenagers today have tons of responsibilities. There’s school, sports, arts and extracurricular activities, not to mention video games, TV and your social life. Even though you might think that you’ll be able to drive to school on thirty-seven minutes of sleep, it will seriously mess with your reaction time and if you fall asleep at the wheel you could get in a bad accident. Take the bus or call a friend if you think you’re too tired to drive.
  9. Pick the right car! It can be tempting to pick a car because it has a cool feature (like a sunroof or speakers that all work) but what you should really be looking for is safety and reliability. You should pick something that is going to last you all through high school, and that you won’t have to pour a lot of your hard-earned money into.
  10. Maintain your car! This means checking your oil and tire pressure, but it also means choosing accessories that not only fit your style, but will keep your car safe for a long a time.

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