Whether you’ve got a young teenager in the house who is itching to get their license, or your teen has been driving for a while already, it’s important to ensure that they know and put into practice good driving habits every time they get behind the wheel. In fact, that’s the entire focus of National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs from Oct. 18-24 this year.
According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. As a parent, you can set a good example for your teen both by being a safe driver yourself and by checking up on their skills.
Checklist for Teens Preparing to Get their Learners’ Permits
If your child hasn’t received their learner’s permit yet, chances are they have big gaps in their knowledge that could affect their driving ability. That’s okay—that’s what the learner’s permit is for! But to pass the test, they need to pass a written driving exam and a vision test. And of course, they need to be able to confidently drive a vehicle, even while supervised.
Here are a few skills your teen should have while preparing:
- Ability to start the vehicle, shift it into drive, smoothly reverse and accelerate, put the vehicle in park, and stop the vehicle.
- Ability to adjust mirrors for their height and seated position to get a full view of the road and vehicles around and behind them.
- Ability to use turn signals and check mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes.
- Ability to maintain a safe and steady speed on roadways without driving too slow or too fast.
In addition, your teen should study their Oklahoma driver’s handbook extensively to memorize facts that may be on the exam. It may include questions about interstate speed limits, child safety seat requirements, right-of-way scenarios, and much more.
Checklist for Teens Preparing to Get their Intermediate Licenses
Teens who have held valid learners’ permits for at least six months are eligible to apply for an intermediate license, which allows them to drive by themselves with no supervision. Many of the skills they learn while driving with their learners’ permits apply to this stage of driving, and those skills will be tested via a driving skills exam. When applying for an intermediate license, your teen should brush up on:
- City driving techniques, including navigating one-way streets, narrow lanes, parking lots, and parallel parking.
- Interstate and highway driving, including smoothly merging into the flow of traffic, identifying and using on-ramps and exit ramps, and not driving too fast or too slowly.
- Knowledge of all vehicle controls, including how to operate lights, wipers, emergency flashers, and seat/steering wheel adjustments.
- How to safely share the road with other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, especially when approaching intersections, crosswalks, and bike lanes.
It can help to perform mock driving tests with your teen with you standing in as the examiner so that they get used to being observed while driving. Some teens may perform well under general parental supervision, but they may perform poorly when their performances are being judged and graded.
Checklist for Teens Who Have Been Driving for a While
What if your teen has had their license for months or even a few years already? Their risks of an accident are still high, and in fact, some teens regress in their driving ability, knowledge, and attention to safety.
That’s because many become complacent the longer they have their licenses. Don’t let that happen to your child. Ride with them regularly and be on the lookout for the following bad driving behaviors:
- Texting while driving or any form of distracted driving: Teens live on their smartphones, but they shouldn’t be used at all when they’re behind the wheel. Ensure that your teen understands the dangers of driving while distracted.
- Speeding: Teens are among the most likely drivers to speed, and they may not even realize how fast they’re going when others are also driving fast. But two wrongs don’t make a right or make them any safer. Make sure your teen obeys the speed limit, even on highways and interstates.
- Not buckling up on every trip: Seat belts are still by far the most effective life-saving device in today’s vehicles, and when teens don’t wear them, their risk of serious injuries and even death significantly increases.
- Lack of situational awareness: Is your teen constantly scanning the road ahead and regularly checking their mirrors? Driving requires full concentration. Emphasize the importance of remaining focused and not “zoning out” behind the wheel to your teen.
- Driving under the influence: Oklahoma has a zero-tolerance policy for impaired driving in teens. Because they’re under the legal drinking age, teens aren’t allowed to get behind the wheel with any BAC over 0.00%.
If your teen is struggling to become a safe driver, it can help to enroll them in a driver’s education or training course. The instructors who teach these courses can quickly identify any shortcomings and missing knowledge, especially in younger drivers, and take the right steps to fix those issues.
We’re Your Oklahoma Auto Accident Lawyer
Teens are at a high risk of being involved in crashes and causing crashes. But they aren’t the only ones who are susceptible to dangerous behaviors behind the wheel. If you, your child, or someone else you love was hurt in a crash caused by a negligent driver, you may be eligible for compensation, and we want to help you get it. Contact the Oklahoma City auto accident attorneys at Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.