The first five years on the road are some of the riskiest for new drivers. According to Transport Canada, nearly 23 percent of driver fatalities in the country were between ages 15 and 24 in 2010. A definite need exists for young drivers to know how to avoid collisions and prevent accidents. Here are some tips for making it through your first 10 years behind the wheel without a scratch.
- Sign a formal agreement. The Canadian Automobile Association suggests setting up a parent-teen driving agreement. The agreement serves as a contract between parents and the new driver. A formal agreement will underscore the serious nature of driving a car. All parties agree to avoid dangerous driving behaviors like texting while behind the wheel and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Parents agree to clearly communicate expectations — when they’ll need the vehicle and be available to respond to calls and texts. The teen driver agrees to disclose where they’re going, with whom, and for how long. Teens also promise to call if plans change or if they need to rely on an adult driver.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Check your mirrors and turn your head to look into any blind spots. Be mindful of traffic bollards – concrete or metal posts used to protect buildings or landscaping from being driven into. When approaching bollards, also be aware of the space occupied by your car’s mirrors. It’s amazingly easy to knock a mirror off by driving too closely to this type of object. Make sure to look for moving hazards as well. Motorcycles, pedestrians, pets, and even toddlers can suddenly get into a blind spot when you least expect it. Always check twice before turning or backing up.
- Don’t overload your car with friends. According to AOL Autos, a single teenage passenger in a teen driver’s car increases the risk of a fatality by a whopping 44 percent. Two passengers will double the risk. Filling the car with four teenaged riders will quadruple the risk. It’s safest for teens to drive with no young passengers at all and be completely free of distractions.
- Obey the speed limit. The speed limit doesn’t just lower fuel consumption or make driving dull. It improves on-road safety. The slower you’re going, the more time you have to react to hazards in the road. If you do hit something, a slower speed will lower your risk of injury. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should drive overly slowly or too cautiously. Follow the speed of the rest of the traffic so that cars behind you don’t make dangerous maneuvers to pass you.
Being observant, obeying traffic laws, and avoiding distractions will help prevent dangerous situations and accidents on the road. These tips aren’t only good for the first five years of your driving career. Practice them throughout your life and you may even be able to drive a million kilometers without a collision.