Driving Safety Tips for Teens and First Time Drivers

May 3, 2021
Written by:
Guest Author

If your teen participates in team sports or plays an instrument, remember how long it took for him or her to play with skill?

The same is true for driving. Teens are understandably excited about earning a licence and getting behind the wheel. Remind your new drivers how important it is to learn all the rules of the road, as well as practice safe driving behavior. Here’s what they need to know.

Don’t Overestimate Your Ability To Drive

It’s true that nervous drivers can make errors on the road that lead to accidents, but overconfident drivers – or ones who overestimate their ability – are just as big of a threat.

Present your teen with the analogy about playing sports or an instrument. It will take time and practice to not only get used to operating a vehicle, but to learn how to be a responsible driver amidst all of the other cars, vans, and trucks on the road. You can’t expect to be an excellent driver immediately after you’ve earned your licence.

Stand Strong Against Peer Group Pressure

It’s a rite of passage to learn to drive and earn a licence. Teens sometimes view their driver’s licence as a status symbol, and will want to show off for their friends by giving them rides. Unfortunately, studies have shown that when teens invite multiple friends to be their passengers, they’re more likely to engage in thrill-seeking behavior. Data also shows that males make up a much higher proportion of young car driver fatalities.

It’s also more likely for the new driver to be distracted when multiple passengers are in the car, and even small distractions can lead to serious accidents. Parents should establish rules that limit the number of passengers their teen can include on a ride.

Focus on Driving

When young drivers are involved in car accidents, the biggest contributory factors include failing to look, inability to judge another driver’s path, and reckless behavior.  Critical errors like these account for 74% of accidents among the youngest group of drivers in the UK. Additionally, new drivers don’t have enough experience to know how long it takes to suddenly stop a car, and if they’re not prepared for what’s ahead, they may not be able to reduce their speed in time to avoid rear-ending the car in front of them. Remind teens to always keep their eyes on the road and to be prepared for what’s up ahead.

Study a Proper Driver’s Education Course to Learn the Essentials

Is your teen currently enrolled in a classroom driver’s education course? Those classes are typically not scheduled at a convenient time and the instructors may not be experts in teaching the subject. Chances are the materials are presented in a very dry and boring way. Students will likely memorize the material without taking the time to really absorb what they’re learning, and why they are learning it. Essentially, many students end up studying for their exams, not to become safe drivers.

The downside of studying only to pass the driving theory test is that it can lead to careless behavior on the road, and it may even be a contributing factor for the high percentage of critical errors we see represented in the statistics. An analysis of contributory factors for car accidents showed that inexperience with driving accounts for 10% of accidents among young drivers and only 4% of accidents for the driving population as a whole. That suggests that new drivers are either not getting proper driver’s education or are not fully invested in the course they’re taking.

The Zutobi driver’s education app makes student drivers more motivated to learn because the app is formatted like a game and allows users to level up and build on their knowledge every time they use it. We believe that education needs to be fun to ensure proper learning. This way, new drivers study more, are better informed about driving rules and regulations, and are therefore safer on the road.

Don’t Use a Mobile Phone While Driving – Not Even Hands-Free

Focusing on driving means not turning your attention to anything other than that task. That includes mobile phones, and even those that are hands-free.

You might think that keeping your hands on the wheel will make it okay to talk on the phone or use voice commands to answer an incoming text. But even if you keep your eyes on the road, your attention will drift from driving to your conversation. New drivers should silence their phones while driving. If a call or text is so important that it must be answered, your teen can wait until pulling over or parking the car.

Drive at a Speed That’s Safe for Current Conditions

Many drivers do not understand what the posted speed limit means. The number of the sign is the maximum speed you’re permitted to drive, not an average speed that fluctuates according to the driving behaviors of the other people on the road.

The number on the sign also doesn’t take into account hazardous road conditions that will necessitate slowing down, such as wet or icy pavement, fog that reduces visibility, or road repair that can endanger the lives of workers if vehicles are moving too fast.

It’s especially important to not take chances with your speed when you’re a new driver and you haven’t yet learned how to react to unsafe or changing road conditions. Teen drivers should err on the side of caution and reduce speed during hazardous weather or road conditions.

Get Used to Driving Before Going on Long Trips

Tell your teen that they’ll have plenty of opportunities to take a long road trip – after they’ve been driving for a while. If you’re not an experienced driver, a long trip can be stressful and exhausting. It’s common to feel fatigued or nauseated after driving for several hours, and new drivers may not be prepared for how that will impact their skill and safety. Better to take smaller, shorter trips as a new driver and save that extended driving challenge for some time in the future.

Regularly Refresh Your Knowledge About Driving Theory

With so many rules and driving safety practices to remember, it’s not unusual to forget some of them after getting a licence. Teens can become more confident and responsible drivers when they periodically refresh their driving theory knowledge, and mock theory tests are great when it comes to helping new drivers keep the rules top-of-mind. Staying current is good advice for all drivers, but it’s especially important for those who have only recently begun venturing out on the roadways. The more you refresh your knowledge, the better.

More about the author:

Tim Waldenback is the co-founder of Zutobi Drivers Ed, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online drivers education to help teens get their license. Tim founded Zutobi to make world-class driver’s education fun, affordable, and easily accessible for all.