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Road Tripping Tips for Teens

Road Trip Safety Tips for Teens

Dreaming of driving cross-country with your crew this summer? Or perhaps your parents just broke the news that this year's vacation involves the family minivan, your sometimes whiny younger sister or brother, and one very carsick family pooch. No matter what the circumstances, a road trip's likely to feature in your summer plans.

Driving With Friends
Whether you're driving to the beach for the day or putting serious miles on your dad's hand-me-down pickup, you'll want to be prepared when you're in the driver's seat.

Stay focused on your driving and try not to let passengers distract you. According to the AAA, a 16- to 19-year-old driver is four times more likely to be in a crash than an older driver. And, although you'll want to keep your cell phone handy for emergencies, try to avoid talking while you drive. Not only does it interfere with your concentration, it may get you a ticket in some states.

    Watch your speed. It's easy to be cruising along with the music cranking and suddenly find you're over the limit. Not only does speeding play a huge role in teen driver crashes, it's also a great way to invite a ticket, which could put your license at risk. Plus, speeding penalties in some states can run several hundred dollars. Ouch!

    Know the limits of your license. If you have an intermediate license, you may be restricted to driving at certain times (some states don't let intermediate license holders drive during nighttime hours, for example). You may also be limited in the number of passengers you can take with you. And, if you're driving through other states, be sure you know their laws before you hit the road.

    Plan your trip ahead of time so you can concentrate on the road, not the map. If you're driving with friends, ask one of them to navigate. And be prepared to handle emergencies. Your basic roadside safety supplies should include a flashlight, a first aid kit, jumper cables, and a spare tire and flat repair kit that are in working order. And don't forget to check that you have your insurance information and vehicle registration card with you before hitting the road. (You can get a ticket for driving without your registration card.)

Family Road Trips
Family vacations can be challenging enough without long, tedious drives. Be sure to bring plenty of boredom-beating entertainment on the road. In addition to your CD player, have you thought about a DVD setup? If your family's vehicle doesn't have an in-car video system, you may be able to rent one. And when all else fails, your cell phone's text messaging feature offers a great way to keep friends updated on your vacation experience.

If you have your license, ask your folks about sharing the driving. It gives them a break - and gives you a reason to escape the back seat when Fido's looking a little green. If you have your learner's permit - and your parents are willing to let you drive - family road trips are a great way to rack up the hours needed for your license. (If you'll be crossing state lines, though, be sure to check out whether other states allow you to drive.)

The prospect of cramming your family into a small space, adding wheels, and multiplying the experience by hours may seem downright horrifying. But you never know - the open road could lead to open minds. Perhaps you'll find you communicate better with parents and siblings away from the daily grind. At the very least, you can sit back, observe, and learn a lot about how your family interacts.