For adults, driving is second nature. The stop sign on the corner, that left-hand turn into your office building, the familiar trip to the grocery store. But for new teen drivers, the entire experience is unfamiliar and daunting.
New things take time, attention and brainpower to learn. The brain has to be trained to drive. Because the teen brain is so preoccupied with basic driving tasks, it is particularly open to distraction and overreaction.
Distractions can cause teen drivers to lose focus and make mistakes. Common teen driving distractions include passengers, radios and music players, GPS or Map apps, cell phone conversations, texting, objects or activity on the side of the road.
Inexperience can also cause teen drivers to overreact to certain driving situations, so they’re more likely to swerve into other lanes, brake too hard or run off the road, get rear-ended by another vehicle, or cut off other drivers. Help your teen gain awareness of the risks of overreaction, teach them to anticipate and mentally rehearse driving situations.
If your teen is headed out for the night, it’s important to set some guidelines to ensure their safety.
- Make sure you know the itinerary, as well as who else will be with your teen. Have contact information for everyone.
- Ensure you can contact your teen at all times. You may want to require them to check in with you once or twice over the course of the evening.
- Set a curfew, whether they are coming back home or to a friend’s. If they are staying elsewhere, make sure the curfew will be enforced by a responsible adult.
- Discuss with your teen how to handle difficult situations, such as facing pressure to drink, or accepting a ride with someone who shouldn’t be driving. It’s a good idea to provide your child with money for a taxi just in case.
- Offer a “no-questions-asked” ride home, should they need one during the evening.
And while teens can have enough trouble with ordinary driving, inclement weather can make things even more difficult. The following approaches to driving in bad weather can help them handle skids and hydroplaning.
- Drive slowly and carefully – especially on curves
- Steer and brake with a light touch – don’t brake hard or lock the wheels.
- Remain calm – if a skid starts, ease your foot off the gas and steer in the direction you want the car to go.
- Avoid braking in cars without an anti-lock brake system (ABS) – steering into the skid will bring the back end of your car in line with the front.
- Brake firmly in cars with ABS – steer into the skid.
- Hydroplaning is when your car slides on a thin layer of water between your tires and the road. This common phenomenon in Florida can cause you to lose contact with the road surface and skid out of your lane or off the road completely. If you find yourself hydroplaning, do not brake or turn suddenly. Ease off the gas until the car slows and you feel the road again. If you need to brake, do it gently with light pumping actions.
Avoid hydroplaning by:
- Keep your tires properly inflated
- Maintain good tread; replace tires when necessary
- Slow down on wet roads
- Avoid puddles
- Drive in the tire tracks left by the cars in front of you
Teach your teen about preventing skids and hydroplaning. Remind them of these techniques whenever you are driving together in bad weather. One more reminder: driving with hazard lights on is dangerous – and illegal in the state of Florida. If your teen is unable to see clearly or feel safe, it’s best to pull over and wait out the storm.
We also strongly recommend sending your teen driver to an accredited driving school. This can help lower auto insurance premiums, plus it’s a good idea to have a “third-party” instructor, not a family member.
Call Chapman Insurance to learn more about options for teen drivers and their impact on your auto insurance policy.