Most teens are so excited to receive their driver licenses that they hit the road without thought or preparation. Driving is a major responsibility that requires undivided attention. Teen drivers should avoid distractions and keep their eyes on the road, not on obstacles. Following these tips will keep teens safe when they are behind the wheel.
Driver distractions including cell phone use are major causes of vehicle accidents. It may take only one second to dial a programmed phone number but within that second, a driver travels 88 feet when moving 60mph. Even talking to vehicle passengers represents a distraction because we tend to look at someone when talking to him or her.
Proper driving position includes keeping hands on the wheel and directing eyes forward to the road. This also means no playing with the radio, CD, or MP3 player. Eating is another behavior that should be avoided because it removes a hand from the steering wheel. Adjust the radio or music player before starting the car and when hunger strikes, park the car and enjoy a meal indoors. Though this may extend travel time, it can prevent accidents.
Our eyes are two of the most important tools we have when driving. Looking where you want to go when driving seems like it goes without saying but unfortunately, far too many people do not follow this rule. The eyes should be active all the time, not fixating on an object such as an animal on the side of the road or in the path of the vehicle.
When the eyes fix on something, the brain has a tendency to signal the hands to steer the vehicle in the direction of this object, which can cause an accident. Instead, drivers should look beyond the obstacle, allowing the brain to help the hands steer the car around the object. Keep eyes looking ahead to where you want to go ten to thirty seconds in the future and avoid fixating on objects.
By avoiding driver distractions and looking where they want to go, teens improve their safety on the road. Parents should set good examples by always practicing the same behaviors. When riding with teens who have their driving permits, parents should point out these and other bad behaviors and make sure teens do not let them become habits. Safety should always be the top priority when traveling in a motor vehicle.
*Photo Courtesy of Henri Bergius via Creative Commons License