new drivers


Keeping Your Teen Safe On The Road This Summer

teen driver

Did you know that summer is the most dangerous time of year for teens to be on the road? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest for drivers between ages 15-20.   It makes sense, less time in school, more time for parties, going to the beach, road trips, and endless other places to drive to during the summer season. Don’t let your teen become another statistic, share these safety tips with them and help them practice safe driving this summer!  Remember to set a good example as well, teens pick up habits from other drivers that they observe and you don’t want them to think it’s ok to send a quick text or ditch their seat belt just because they’re going somewhere close.  These tips may seem like common sense to some, but new drivers  don’t have as much experience behind the wheel and may not consider things that drivers with a little more experience would consider obvious.

  • Click it or ticket!  Wearing your seat belt is not only a good idea, but it’s also the law here in Massachusetts.  New drivers may think it’s no big deal to hop in the car and ride down the street to the store without their seat belt just because it’s close, but accidents can happen anywhere. Make sure your teen knows just how important it is to wear your seat belt.  Did you know that drivers and passengers increase their risk of injury or death by up to 50% by not wearing a safety belt?  Those are odds you don’t want to gamble with so remind your teen of the importance of their seat belt and set a good example when you’re driving as well!
  • Talk To Your Teen About Car Maintenance – Again, some things that may seem obvious to experienced drivers may not be so clear to teens.  Make sure your teen knows how to check their tire pressure, put air in the tires, knows how often they need an oil change and tire rotation, and knows how to check and replace the car’s fluids.  A problem as small as low tire pressure can cause the car to handle differently, and may even potentially lead to an accident.  Make sure your teen knows exactly what to look for when it comes to their car.
  • Understand the Dangers of Distracted Driving – Although teens are the least experienced drivers on the road, they are typically the most likely to use their cell phones when behind the wheel.  Averting your eyes from the road for even five seconds, or the amount of time it takes to send a quick text, can lead to a major accident.  Even having too many passengers in a car can be a major distraction, paying attention to friends, music, and the road all at the same time is difficult for any driver, but especially those with little experience. If your teen still has their junior operator license, make sure they are following the rules and regulations that go along with that, which can be found here.
  • Communicate the Danger of Drinking And Driving – Again, this may seem obvious but it’s still a good idea to sit down with your teen and make sure they understand exactly how important this is.  Underage drinking continues to be an issue and although there are attempts to crack down on it, teens still find access to alcohol and it’s important that parents communicate how dangerous and deadly drinking and driving can be.  Make sure your teen knows not to drive themselves, or get into the car with anyone that has had a drink.
  • Limit Unnecessary Trips – Unless your teen has a purpose for their outing, they shouldn’t be going out “just for a drive”.  The less time they spend on the road, the less likely they are to be in an accident.
  • Make Sure Your Teen Knows Where They Are Going – If your teen is taking a trip to the beach or a concert, make sure they know exactly how to get there to prevent getting lost.  If their destination is nearby, take a test drive out there with them and make sure they know exactly where they’re going. If their destination is too far for a convenient test drive, make sure they have a GPS system, and fully charged cell phone to use in case of emergency.

These tips will help your teen make smart decisions and stay safe on the road this summer.  Make sure they understand how important it is for them to give the road their undivided attention, distractions while driving have caused fatal accidents in the past, and the sad thing is that they are typically preventable.  The sooner your teen understands these tips, the safer they will be!

Photo By: State Farm

Preparing Your Kids for the Road

Preparing Your Kids for the Road

Preparing Your Kids (and Yourself) to Drive

Passing a drivers test and receiving their very first licnese is a teenager’s first step to independence and one move closer to adulthood. You can provide your child with driving advice and safety tips to better prepare them behind the wheel. No matter the advice you give, your child’s first time behind the wheel is going to be an exhilarating, and maybe scary experience. Tackling important information early on can help your new driver to make the best decisions during their first days, weeks, and months on the road.

Don’t Miss Out On Driver’s Training

As all younger drivers are require to complete driver’s training, before taking their exam they will need to study the laws of the road. You can be a part of this by helping them to study, quizzing them on the information for the exam, and maybe even pick up a little refresher yourself! With this preparation your child will be more confident and better prepared for the exam and the road.

Talk Finances

Whether or not your teenager will be helping to pay for their own car, auto insurance, or gas it’s important that they understand the financial responsibility that comes with a driver’s licnese. Show them a copy of your insurance policy, talk with them about the costs that come with a driver’s licnese and emphasize the responsibility they are about to receive. Discussing the effects of a speeding ticket on insurance rates and the dangers of irresponsible driving is an important subject to touch on as well. These conversations will better prepare your child to be financially responsible with their vehicle and driving habits today and in the future.

Talk Safety

Further than discussing the financial consequences of a speeding ticket or an accident, you’ll want to discuss the importance of safety behind the wheel. Parents should discuss the incredible responsibility the child has acquired not only for themselves, but for the passengers of their own vehicle and others on the road. Topics to discuss here include everything from wearing a seatbelt and ensuring the headlights are used during evening hours to defensive driving techniques. Here you’ll want to be firm, but not overly controlling – you will want your child to take you seriously and feel respected.

Keep the Driving Subject Open

Once they receive their driver’s licnese, the training is not over. You will want to consistently review driving techniques and ask about their driving experiences. Although you will not want to discuss this every time you talk with your child, depending on the length of time they’ve been driving you’ll want to keep on top of these important topics.

Safe Driving!

Photo by Caitlinator

Should America Have a National Licensing Age?

As of now a total of 42 states allow teenagers under 16 years to earn a learners permit. Of these states, seven offer permits to fourteen-year-olds. Laws differing by state, allowing young drivers certain privileges and restrictions such as a curfew, number of passengers allowed or licensing age. Representatives Tim Bishop, Michael Castle, and Chris Van Hollen, Jr. began the push for a national standardization of driving permits and licenses April of 2009. The legislative act, dubbed the STAND UP Act, would establish minimum federal requirements for state laws and set a 3 year time frame from enactment for states to conform to the new federal standards.

The www.saferoads4teens.org, website dedicated to this piece of legislation, gives an overview of the STANDUP ACT as follows:

  • States must meet the following requirements under the STANDUP Act:
  • Three stages of licensing – learner’s permit, intermediate stage, and full licensure – should be used
  • Age 16 should be the earliest age for entry into the learner’s permit process
  • Nighttime driving while unsupervised should be restricted during the learner’s permit and intermediate stages, until full licensure at age 18
  • Driving while using communication devices (cell phone calls, texting) should be prohibited at least until full licensure at age 18
  • Unrestricted, full licensure should occur no earlier than age 18
  • Passengers should be restricted – no more than one non-familial passenger under age 21 unless a licensed driver over age 21 is in the vehicle – until full licensure at age 18
  • Any other requirement adopted by the Secretary of Transportation, such as a minimum duration of 6 months and a minimum of 30 hours of supervised driving for a learner’s permit, may be included
  • Compliance with the requirements within the first three years after enactment will make states eligible for incentive grants
  • Three years are provided for states to meet the requirements, after which sanctions are imposed to encourage states to meet the requirements

This is a piece of legislation to keep an eye on, although it is still in the early stages it had the potential to affect drivers across the nation. For further information and updates on the Act’s happenings please visit the safe 4 roads legislative update page.

Teaching Teens to Drive

When a teenager first learns to drive it can be just as nerve wrecking for parents as the new driver. Some parents are terrified for their son or daughter’s safety driving on the road, others should be more worried about their child’s parallel parking. When readying your teenager for their drivers test it’s important to have more than a few lessons to practice the necessary skills.

For the first couple lessons find a location without many cars, light posts or other obstacles – like a vacant parking lot. When your teen sits behind the wheel be sure to give precise and simple instructions far enough ahead of time they will be able to safely respond. Also avoid overloading your new driver with too much information. Allow enough time for your son or daughter to absorb information in segmented lessons. Teaching ninety degree turns, parallel parking, lane changes, and driving in reverse all in the same day will most likely confuse and stress your teen. Give one lesson on each driving skill, and keep practicing until they feel comfortable with each of the skills.

Above all set an example for your new teen driver:

If you run red and yellow lights, speed down the highway at 75 MPH, weave in and out of traffic, take chances on the road, ride the bumper of the car in front of you, scream at other drivers, or exhibit other signs of road rage, you’re showing your teen that the rules don’t count—and this can be fatal.   – teendriving.com

Although teaching a new driver can be nerve wrecking, it can also be rewarding. When your teenager passes his or her driver’s exam he or she will see it as an entryway to adulthood. With a license it’s important to remind them driving comes with responsibility, and your trust. If your teen exhibits responsible driving reward them. If your teen exhibits dangerous and/or unlawful driving, you will need to negotiate their driving terms. As a parent you have the ultimate say in your child’s driving, ensure they can handle their new responsibility before handing over the car keys.

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