Driving is one life skill that is often associated with fun and freedom. But before getting the car keys and turning on the engine, here’s something you should know: car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 2,400 teenagers were killed in 2016 alone, while nearly 300,000 were treated for injuries due to car crashes. In short, teen drivers have the highest risk of being involved in a car crash.
Put together by an auto accident lawyer, below are important safety tips to keep in mind the next time you are behind the wheel.
1. Wear Your Seat Belt
This is arguably the first thing you should do, even before you start the engine. Wearing your seat belt can save your life! Even if you are only driving to the neighborhood store, you should never forget to wear your seat belt. Studies have shown that drivers are up to 10 times more likely to get killed in a car crash if they are not wearing a seat belt.
2. Put Your Phone Away
Here are some distracted driving statistics proving that it is never wise to use your mobile device while driving:
- In the United States, 1 out of 4 car accidents is due to texting and driving.
- Nearly 400,000 injuries happen every year from accidents due to texting and driving.
- According to the National Safety Council, using a mobile phone while driving leads to more than 1.5 million car crashes every year.
- Studies have shown that each time a driver writes and sends a text, his eyes are off the road for more than 4 seconds.
Simply put, refusing to put away your phone while driving is a recipe for disaster. Mobile devices can distract you when your concentration should be on the road. Speaking of distractions, you should also avoid other things that may distract you, such as turning on loud music, talking excessively with other passengers, or showing off your driving skills.
3. Never Give a Hitchhiker a Ride
Young drivers often have an altruistic attitude to the point that they will even think of offering a hitchhiker a ride. Strangers with a child or pet in tow, in particular, may look harmless to young drivers. But before stopping and pulling down your window, ask yourself these questions:
- Why is that person even on the side of the road?
- What assurance do you have that they’re safe?
- Why can’t they find a ride with someone they know or from a driver service?
If you are really concerned about the plight of another individual on the road, the best course of action is to notify the authorities.
4. Check Your Blind Spot
One of the most important things to remember and practice is to check your blind spots all the time until doing the shoulder check becomes second nature to you.
While this may no longer be as relevant, especially if you drive a car with a blind spot detection system, it still pays to do a quick glance over your shoulder. After all, it should not take you more than a split second to do so!
You can also minimize the size of a blind spot by adjusting the side mirrors. Also, don’t forget to check your blind spot when:
- Leaving a parked position
- Prior to merging with other traffic
- Changing lanes, especially when passing another vehicle
- Always Get Enough Rest/Sleep
You may be smart and responsible enough not to drink and drive, but if you don’t get enough rest or sleep, then you might be even more dangerous than a drunk driver. Lack of sleep can impair your attention, coordination skills, and working memory, all of which are critical for safe driving.
Before you head out for a drive, make sure that you get enough sleep. Eight hours of sleep should be enough. If you have trouble keeping your head up, just pull over and take a power nap. It’s a lot safer to drive when you are well-rested.
Yes, driving is fun, but it also forces you to become more responsible. After all, it’s not only your life that can be at risk if you’re being reckless. Follow these tips so that you can stay away from trouble or accidents on the road, and be sure to contact a car accident lawyer if you run into any problems.