“You never really know the drivers around you and have to anticipate for the unknown, like another driver swerving last minute or stopping abruptly.” That’s the advice of Richard Romer, Manager, State Relations, AAA. He issued the warning to coincide with the beginning of the “100 Deadliest Days”, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the number of fatal crashes involving teen drivers increases.
But it’s not just teens – and their parents – that need to be aware of this notoriously dangerous period for young drivers. That’s because other drivers are on the road too. So, as schools let out for summer and more teens learn to drive, it’s important for all road users to look out for an increased number of inexperienced drivers on the roads around them.
“It’s essential to always be aware of your surroundings and to consistently scan the roadway, especially during the summer when more unexperienced teens are on the road,” said Romer. “Stay mentally focused on the drive, keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road and avoid distraction at all costs.”
Here, Virginia Williams, eLearning Content and Experience Lead at eDriving, talks about some of the reasons why teens are at risk on the road and offers best practice advice to help all drivers stay safe on the roads this summer season.
Be aware of teen driver risk factors, such as driving at night and carrying passengers. “Knowing the risks facing teen drivers can help other road users look out for warning signs,” said Williams. “For example research shows that teens are more likely to drive distracted, and that’s a problem for other road users if they are not getting that teen’s full attention. If you anticipate risk factors such as these you can take steps to increase your own visibility; for example by signaling well in advance of a turn to increase the chances of a teen driver noticing your intentions.”
Drive defensively to reduce the risk of a collision. “This is not just a tip for summer, but for every trip,” said Williams. “Driving defensively requires that you anticipate other drivers’ actions – including those of teen drivers – and be more aware of potential hazards. It’s basically about getting out of a driver’s only mindset and considering everyone else on the road too. Expecting inexperienced drivers to turn without signaling, or pull out when it’s not their right of way, will help you to respond safely when these situations do occur.”
Have patience with inexperienced drivers. Teen drivers are new to the road and new to dealing with traffic. “Don’t put extra pressure on teens by being inpatient and getting up close to them at intersections,” said Williams. “We were all new drivers once, and we can probably remember how scary those first few times of negotiating an intersection were.”
Avoid distractions… the road needs your full attention. “We all face a challenge with distraction these days, not just teens,” said Williams. “Anything that takes your focus away from the road and the traffic around you will only increase your chances of a collision. Remaining alert and giving the road environment your full attention will help you to spot any potential hazards as early as possible, giving you more time to respond pre-emptively to avoid a collision.”
Leave plenty of safety space around your vehicle. “Good space management is one of the most important habits that an experienced driver can develop,” said Williams. “Maintaining a safe following distance and leaving an escape route in traffic can help you to take avoidance action in the event of another driver making a mistake. Teen drivers might not have learned first-hand the importance of maintaining an adequate space cushion around their vehicle, so maintaining a safe space yourself gives you an option to adjust your positioning in the event of an inexperienced driver getting too close.”
eDriving’s One More Second®: 2-hour online defensive driving course refreshes those all-important defensive driving techniques, reiterates the importance of attitudes and behaviors and provides hazard recognition tips for all drivers.