There are some things in life that you can learn from a book, and there are some things you have to learn for yourself. There is no question that driving is a skill whose best teacher is experience, but that doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. Today, we are offering our top advice for teens that are just beginning to drive. Not only could this save your life, but it could also save you money on car insurance as well.
It’s Not If, but When an Emergency Will Strike
Preparation is the key to being ready for an emergency. Most people will have a driver’s license for several decades. During that time, many will come across car accidents, breakdown on the side of the road, get locked out of their vehicles, and maybe be involved in accidents themselves. Teens should know whom to call in major and minor emergencies. Program the phone numbers for the police, tow company, locksmith, and other roadside assistance companies into your phone. Also, keep a tire jack and spare tire with you at all times and be sure you know how to use it.
Common Sense Goes a Long Way When You Get Pulled Over
Your only requirement when getting pulled over by the police is to cooperate. If you see the red and blue flashing in your rear view mirror, slow down and pull over into a well-lit, low traffic area if possible. Do not make any sudden motions, and keep both hands on the steering wheel until the officer reaches your window. Be polite, courteous, and respectful.
Sometimes the Speed Limit Is Too High
Sometimes the speed limit is too high for the conditions you are driving in. Here in Wisconsin, we experience a broad range of dangerous conditions throughout the year, from fog and rain to ice and snow. Since more than 1 in 5 crashes are weather-related, it pays to slow down. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recommends slowing down by 1/3 in wet weather and slowing down by half in the snow.
Turn the Cell Phone Off
Distractions are the cause of too many accidents, and cell phones play a substantial role in many distraction-related crashes. Although there is no way to know exactly how many accidents are caused by phones, some estimate it to be 1 in 4. Keep yourself safe and pledge not to use your cell phone for any reason while driving.
Cars Are Easier to Maintain than to Repair
New drivers are often unaware of the maintenance required on a vehicle. Be sure to get your oil changed and tires rotated regularly. Also, keep an eye on your tires for signs of wear or under-inflation. Underinflated and worn tires increase your risk of a crash.
Wearing Seatbelts is Non-negotiable
Seatbelts save lives, but only if you use them. In 2014, more than half of teens killed in car accidents were not wearing their seatbelt. Be sure you and all passengers in your vehicle buckle up, whether you are traveling 10 miles per hour, just going down the street, or riding with a friend who does not want to wear a safety belt.
Don’t Follow Too Close, Even in Traffic Jams
You learned in driver’s ed to always leave a distance of 2-4 seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you. Tailgating is always a bad idea, and it can have grave consequences. What you may not know, however, is that you should aim to maintain plenty of space around your vehicle whether you are traveling on a highway or stopped in traffic. You never know when a vehicle 3 cars back might not be paying attention, causing a pileup that sends the car behind you into your car. If you aren’t too close to the vehicle stopped in front of you, the collision is less likely to send your car into another person’s bumper.
They’re Called ‘blind Spots’ for a Reason
Blind spots are areas surrounding a person’s vehicle that are not easily seen by mirrors. Riding in another person’s blind spot is asking for trouble, even if it is up to them to be on the lookout for other cars. Likewise, it is your responsibility to adjust your mirrors before operating your vehicle so that you can easily see the cars around you.
Adult Drivers Aren’t Necessarily Safe Drivers
There are bad apples in every bunch. For teens that have always been told to follow the rules given by adults, the idea of an adult driver breaking the rules may seem surprising. The truth is there are bad drivers on the roads at all ages. Always drive defensively and be on the lookout for carelessness.
Never Drop Your Car Insurance…ever
Car insurance is something you should never go one day without as long as you are a licensed driver. Insurance protects you from financial liability if you are responsible for an accident, and it can also help you pay for repairs to your own vehicle if it is damaged. Dropping it not only forfeits these benefits, but going without mandatory coverage also puts you in violation of the law. Car insurance for teens may be a little higher than that of more experienced drivers, but you can help keep rates in check by keeping your grades up and shopping for coverage with an independent insurance agent.