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Keeping your
Teen Drivers Safe

Teen Drivers are a very scary subject for me. My first born, and only son, will be acquiring his license to drive soon. But more pressing on my mind is an article I recently read.

The article stated that the part of the brain that controls "risk taking" isn't even fully developed at the age teens are permitted to drive in most states. That's a scary thought. Potentially meaning that teen driver's may be willing to take more risks than the other drivers.

All the more reason that we as parents want to do all we can to keep them safe behind the wheel. Choosing the right car and setting a good example are important elements in keeping your teen drivers safe.

Choosing Your Teen Driver's First Car | Raising Safe Drivers

Help for Parents Choosing their Teen’s First Car

(ARA) - If your teenager recently got a driver’s license, the next thing on your mind may be to put your son or daughter in a quality car.

This rite of passage can bring a sense of newfound freedom for teens, but for you it can be a real headache.

For most teens, their first car will be used one. When they’re ready for that first set of wheels, there are a few steps that you can take to protect them.

"Safety should be the first priority when choosing a vehicle for your teen," says Marianne Correa, director of the Carfax Safe Teen Drivers Program.

"Teens are involved in more accidents than any other age group, which is why you should choose a car that will give them the most protection in a crash."

So how do you choose the right vehicle for your teen driver? Do you pick the sporty coupe your daughter is craving? Should your son get to drive a pick-up truck?

The Carfax Safe Teen Drivers Program, a one-stop resource for safe driving information, offers help for parents choosing their teen’s first car:

Vehicle Reviews on all Makes & Models at Edmunds

  • Choose a make and model your teen is familiar with. Most safety experts recommend mid-size sedans for teen drivers. Consider buying a car that is similar to the one your teen learned to drive in. This will ensure that the handling will be more familiar to them and your teen will be more comfortable behind the wheel. Also, avoid buying sporty cars, which may tempt your teen to drive too fast.
  • Invest in as many safety features as possible. The more safety features you invest in, the more protection your teen will have in a crash. Check the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which crash-tests dozens of vehicles each year for safety ratings. Newer cars have more safety features such as anti-lock brakes, dual front-and-side airbags, fog lights, traction control and all-wheel drive. You can also get a free Safety and Reliability Report from Carfax.com for each specific make and model.
  • Get as much information as you can about each make and model you’re considering by searching the internet and visiting dealerships. Never Buy a Used Car Without CARFAX, which can uncover hidden problems such as salvage, lemon, odometer problems and flood-damage. Then, get a second opinion -- take the car to a trusted mechanic for a thorough inspection. Doing your homework can help you make the best decision possible on a vehicle and can help reveal any problems that may endanger your teen’s safety.
  • Factor in all the costs of having a car. There is more to a car than just the sale price.

    • How many miles are on the odometer? Higher mileage could mean more money spent in service and repair.
    • How much will your teen spend in gas?
    • How much will your insurance cost? Ask your insurance company about special discounts for teen drivers, such as good-student discounts for ‘B’ averages, completion of a driver’s education course, or discounts for occasional drivers.
  • One of the most exciting times in your teen’s life is getting their first car, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare for you. Courtesy of ARA Content

    1 Minute Car Loan

    Raising Safe Teen Drivers

    Like anything else in life, children learn alot by example. In the same way that you teach good money management skills, by practicing what you preach, you can teach good driving skills.

    Do your teen's driving instructor a favor! Practice appropriate driving habits and obey traffic laws. Teen drivers learn alot from example. Reinforce the importance of being an observant, courteous, driver. Jayne O'Donnell gives a few pointers on Driving By Example in the following article.

    Driving by Example

    By Jayne O'Donnell

    Click here to register for your free ClubMom membership

    Want your children to grow up to be skilled, safe teen drivers? Point them in the right direction by setting a good example. Whether your kids are tots or teens, the driving habits they see in you may someday become their own.

    Teach "no tailgating." Tailgating is one of the easiest—and most destructive—bad habits to fall into, especially in the stop-and-go, slow-go traffic that typifies both city and suburb. Try to develop a formula for determining a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle just ahead. One simple measure: Pick out a landmark, like a billboard or an overpass, on the road ahead. Wait for the car ahead to pass it. You should be able to count off three seconds before you go by.

    Watch yourself in lots. The folks who create lab-rat mazes have nothing on the designers of modern mall parking lots. The temptation to cut across lanes and dart in and out of the traffic pattern seems irresistible. But don't. Drive slowly, stay patient, and be extra alert to the pedestrians and other drivers who surround you.

    Yield at yield; stop at yellow. You probably learned both of these rules way back in Driver's Ed. And you probably forget to observe them every so often. But the results could be disastrous, especially if you slide through a yellow light and get T-boned by a T. rex-sized sport-utility vehicle jumping the gun at the other light.

    On the right path. If you're driving below—or even just at—the speed limit, the right-hand lane is the best place for you. It seems more drivers than ever are busting speed limits and weaving in and out of traffic to get past those who aren't. Driving the limit, while legal, can cause traffic jams, frayed tempers, and uncontrolled bouts of hyperactive lane-changing by the speeders behind you. Leave the left lane (and the troopers) to them.

    Forward, drive! Unless you absolutely have to (backing out of a parking space, for example), don't drive in reverse. It's too easy to lose control of your car and have it spin out if you go too far or too fast backwards. If you miss a turn, keep going forward, turn, and circle back when it's safe.

    Pay attention. Driver distraction, which includes everything from talking on a car phone to fiddling with the CD player, is a huge traffic safety issue. In fact, studies have shown a correlation between car phone chat-ups and accidents. Keep your mind and eyes on the road, and that means, with the exception of emergencies, staying off cell phones. If you need to make a call, or change that CD, wait until you find a safe place to pull over.

    ClubMom's AutoPro, Jayne O'Donnell, is a Washington, D.C.-based reporter (and new mom!) whose automotive expertise and investigative reporting skills have helped break some of the biggest auto-safety stories of the past several years.

    Copyright © 1999-2004 ClubMom, Inc. All rights reserved.

    Remember, teen drivers are watching!

    Review the National Safety Council's Family Guide to Teen Drivers Safety.

    Teen Driving Resources

    Get involved in MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).

    Teen Driving Foundation

    The National Safety Council's Family Guide to Teen Drivers Safety

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