Keeping Your High School Drivers Safe Behind the Wheel at the Start of the Academic Year
It is almost time for high school students across the country to go back to school for the coming academic year. Many high school students are teen drivers who could be at risk of a car accident due to inexperience behind the wheel and poor driving habits in general. According to a recent report from Fox 17 News, many parents feel anxiety about sending their teenagers back to school when those teens will be driving themselves to class. However, there are many things parents can do to ensure that back to school driving is safe and that teens get to class on time.
Before it is time to go back to school, parents should have their teenager’s vehicle assessed for any safety issues, especially if it is an older car. For instance, is there sufficient tread on the tires to ensure that your child will be safe on the highway? Or does the vehicle need new tires? As the report suggests, parents should perform and teach their teen drivers how to perform the “penny” test to determine tire tread wear. If you place a penny in the tread of the tires and turn it upside down, you should not be able to see Abraham Lincoln’s head. If you can, then the tires do not have enough tread to “safely handle wet roads” and should be replaced.
In addition to checking tire tread, it is also important to teach your teen driver about rotating the tires on the vehicle. As the report contends, “younger drivers . . . [are] not rotating their tires enough.” Rotating the tires on a vehicle can help to ensure that it handles well on the road.
Has your teen’s car had a recent oil change? Depending upon the make and model of the vehicle, it should have an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Take a look at the odometer, and if the vehicle is in need of an oil change, you should have that completed before your teen starts driving to school every weekday morning. By taking steps to ensure that the vehicle itself is safe for use, you may be able to avoid a breakdown, which comes with its own safety hazards.
Safety Tips for Parents with Teen Drivers
In addition to stressing the importance of vehicle maintenance, there are many driving safety tips for parents with teen drivers. A safety tip sheet from the Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends the following:
- Pick a safe car for your teen that has done well in crash tests and has performed highly on other safety rankings;
- Require that your teen driver take a driver’s education class;
- Enroll your child in a “safe driver” program if it is offered in your area and by your insurance company;
- Talk about the serious risks of impaired driving with your teen, and emphasize that your child can call you for a ride without additional consequences so that she or he will not drive (or permit a friend to drive) under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Know the risks of distracted driving, and consider apps that can help you to manage your teen’s technology use in the car (including apps that can prevent your teen from texting while driving); and
- Be a good driving model for your teen, driving in a safe manner and showing your child how to avoid distractions and aggression behind the wheel.