Teaching your teenager to drive can seem overwhelming at first, but before you know it your sixteen-year-old will be licensed and ready to hit the road. In reality, teaching your child to drive is the easy part—the difficult bit is getting your teen to engage in safe driving habits once you’re no longer in the car with them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. In honor of National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 18 – October 24, 2020), Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys is highlighting these life-saving driving tips for teenagers and their parents.
Top 8 Driving Tips for New Mexico Teens
#1: Make Buckling Up Second Nature
The premise behind this tip is simple: seatbelt safety saves lives. Before your teen ever gets behind the wheel, make it a point to always put on your seatbelt correctly and check that your child does as well. You should always buckle your seatbelt before you even put the keys in the ignition.
If you’re in a hurry or stressed, it’s all too easy to skip this crucial step if you wait until after you’ve started the car. So make buckling up second nature for you and your teen by making it the first thing you do every time you get in the car.
#2: Parents, Be a Good Driving Role Model
Nobody is a perfect driver, but it’s important that teenagers who are new to driving have a good role model to look up to. If you’re prone to bad driving habits like road rage, texting and driving, or speeding, make sure you take a good look at your own driving ability before you start telling your teen what they should and shouldn’t do. Always set a good example when you’re behind the wheel, and if you can’t—well, there’s no shame in hiring a driving instructor!
#3: Always Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
Behind the wheel is one place you don’t want to be on auto-pilot. That being said, one of the most important driving tips for teenagers and adults alike is to always be aware of your surroundings. It’s not enough to keep an eye on the brake lights in front of you—your focus should also be on the traffic behind you, the cars, bikes, and pedestrians around you, and any potential hazards up ahead.
Experts recommend keeping a following distance of at least three seconds in most traffic environments and to regularly scan the road ahead by about 12 to 15 seconds. In addition, you should check your mirrors and blind spots every 3 to 5 seconds before and after making a lane switch.
#4: Prepare for the Unexpected
Would you know what to do if you got a flat tire on the highway? What should you do if a cop pulls you over? What if a deer or other animal runs out in front of your vehicle? There are so many variables at play when it comes to driving, and it’s important for new drivers to plan for the unexpected as much as possible.
This can mean taking preventative steps like enrolling in a roadside assistance program such as AAA, keeping an emergency kit in your car, learning how to put on a spare tire, or knowing who to call after an injury accident. It can also mean something as simple as finding an alternate route to your destination if there’s unexpected road construction or a road block up ahead.
The notion of getting into a car accident or hydroplaning on the expressway is scary for any driver—but knowing what to do in an emergency situation can ease some of that fear and help save your life.
#5: When You’re a New Driver, Keep Passengers to a Minimum
For many teens, one of the best parts of getting a driver’s license is the ability to hang out with their friends more often. And if your teen is the first in their friend group to learn to drive, your teen may soon begin to feel more like a chauffeur than anything else.
What many teens don’t realize is that driving with more than one passenger under the age of 21 (who is not an immediate family member) within the first twelve months of getting your provisional license is actually illegal in the state of New Mexico.
Remember, the more passengers in your car, the higher chance of you getting distracted and being involved in a car accident. So stick to just one passenger at a time and wait until you obtain an unrestricted license before taking on more occupants.
#6: Adjust Your Driving in Inclement Weather
Driving in the snow during the winter months is a lot different than driving during the hottest, driest part of the New Mexico summer. Knowing how to adjust your driving in response to changes in your environment is key to preventing weather-related accidents.
You’ll want to reduce your speed and increase your following distance if you’re driving in snowy or rainy conditions, especially if there is also reduced visibility. If you get your license in the summertime, make sure you get practice driving in colder and wetter conditions before you go on any winter road trips.
#7: Planning on Drinking? Plan On Getting a Ride
Underage drinking is common in New Mexico and throughout the United States. And while parents can do their best to discourage this practice, some teens may be determined to drink no matter what. If you plan on drinking, always make a plan to arrange alternate transportation. This might mean having a designated driver for the evening, or utilizing a rideshare option like Lyft or Uber.
Whatever you do, do not under any circumstances get behind the wheel after drinking. You risk not only losing your driver’s license, but also losing your own life or taking someone else’s. Parents of teenage drivers can do their part in reducing the risk of drunk driving accidents by having a no questions asked policy—if ever your teen needs a ride home, for any reason, assure them that you will come get them, no questions asked.
#8: If You’re In An Accident, Know Who To Call
You can follow every one of these driving tips for New Mexico teens to a tee and still find yourself the victim of a motor vehicle accident. If you or your child has been injured in a traffic accident through no fault of their own, financial compensation may be available to you to cover your hospital bills, pain and suffering, and more.
Contact an Albuquerque car accident attorney today for a free, no obligation consultation to go over the details of your case. Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys doesn’t collect a penny unless we make a recovery on your behalf. Representatives are standing by via LiveChat to take your questions. Ready to get started? Call us at 505-544-4444, or fill out this simple form to have a representative contact you directly.