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Basic Safety for Teen Drivers

Basic Safety Tips to For Teen Drivers

You can take steps to avoid these hazards and be safer on the roads. Most schools offer a driver-education program - in some schools it's even a mandatory course. These programs are a great way to pick up driving skills. If your school doesn't have one, you can probably find a local business that offers driver-training courses. Ask your parents, a teacher, or a guidance counselor for more information.

All drivers should follow these safety basics - whether they're experienced or just learning to drive:

Wear a seat belt. Even if you're just driving up the street to pick up your friend, you should always wear your seat belt. Statistics show that seatbelts save lives - don't gamble with yours. Airbags alone won't save your life in the event of a serious crash. Buckling up when you are driving or riding is one of the most important things you can do when you get into a vehicle.

    Follow the speed limit. Speeding reduces the time you have to avoid a crash and increases the braking distance you'll need to stop a vehicle safely. Driving too fast raises every driver's risk of having a crash, especially in bad weather. So always obey the speed limit and drive defensively.

    Don't drink and drive. Drinking or using drugs and then driving is a recipe for disaster - alcohol is involved in almost half of all motor vehicle crashes that kill teens.

Drinking impairs judgment, affects coordination, and can cause confusion, memory lapses, and blackouts. If you or a friend has had a drink, have another friend who has not been drinking drive you home. Call your parents or a taxi or anyone else you trust instead of getting behind that wheel. Careful planning and good judgment can save your life.

Be extra careful at night and in bad weather. Under these conditions you might not be able to see as well, other drivers can be more dangerous, or the roads may be slick. To stay safe, be especially alert and drive more slowly than you would on a sunny day.

Stay calm. It's easy to become angry or frustrated when another driver cuts you off or you're late for school or a weekend job. Road rage is not an option. Angry driving can cost you your life. Slow down and take a few deep breaths if you need to calm down. Even if you have to pull off the road, it's better to take a break than risk someone's life.

Choose a safe, sensible vehicle. If you're in the market for a car, choose one that can help keep you safe. It's tempting to pick a sporty car or one with lots of gadgets. But safety is the most important thing to consider when buying a new or used car. Experts recommend that you examine the car using an inspection checklist. You can find such checklists in magazines and books and on websites that deal with used cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) keeps an online database of safety ratings for cars and trucks made from 1990 to the present.

You and your parent should also test-drive any car you're thinking of buying under different road conditions, such as on hills, on highways, and in stop-and-go traffic. Ask for the car's maintenance record from the owner, dealer, or repair shop, and consider hiring a mechanic to inspect the car. Along with inspecting the engine and transmission, the mechanic should also check the condition of the tires and brakes and other overall safety factors of the vehicle.

Stock your car for emergencies. It's always a good idea to stock your car with emergency supplies in case of bad weather or mechanical problems. You might want to keep these items on hand: a first-aid kit, blankets, a flashlight, a copy of your medical history, a spare tire and jack, windshield wiper fluid, antifreeze, bottled water, a small tool kit, an ice scraper, a set of jumper cables, and a phone card or spare change to make a phone call. It's also a good idea to keep a cell phone handy.