“While teens who have participated in a quality Driver Education program are exposed to difficult driving conditions, parental guidance is essential for the long-term success of any new driver,” said Sandra Maxwell, director of driver education programs for AAA. “Because parents have the unique opportunity to sit in the passenger seat and coach their teen, they have the ability to ensure lifelong safe driving habits at the critical learning-to-drive stage.”
- Driving with other modes of transportation – Bicycles, trucks and motorcycles all provide different challenges. Practice driving around each of these modes to help your teen understand how to share the road.
· Motorcycles – Like bikes, motorcycles can be hard to see. It’s important that teens give motorcycles increased space (3-4 second following distance) and be watchful when changing lanes – motorcycles can easily be lost in a driver’s blind spot.
· Trucks - Parents should also make sure that their teens recognize the limited stopping abilities and blind spots of semis. Trucks need significantly more time and distance to stop than a car, especially at highway speeds. If you cannot see the truck’s mirrors, the driver cannot see you.
2. Winter or inclement driving– Rain, ice and snow can make for dangerous driving conditions for even the most experienced drivers. While many parents are hesitant about their teen driving at all in these conditions, it’s critical for teens to practice driving in these less-than-ideal road conditions while parents can coach them.
· Slow driving and an increased (6-7 second) following distance are critical when roads are slick or icy, look further ahead in traffic so there’s more time to react. When braking on icy roads, apply constant, firm pressure with anti-lock brakes; if the car starts to swerve, keep your hands on the wheel, slowly let off the gas pedal and look and steer in the direction you want to go. Always make sure your teen’s car has an emergency kit.
3. Avoiding a deer or animal – Each year many drivers are killed or injured in crashes involving animals. While animal crashes occur year-round, October and November are dangerous months for these types of crashes, so the time is now to properly prepare your teen driver.
· Most injuries in vehicle-animal crashes are not caused by hitting the animal but from leaving the roadway. So if your teen sees animal: slow down, keep both hands on the wheel, and don’t swerve. Some animals, like deer, travel in numbers so if you see one, watch for others. Animals may double back so even if it appears they have passed, stay alert.
4. Driving on rural roads – Driving on rural roads presents challenges to many drivers, including hairpin turns, limited sight distance and two-lane highways that aren’t well lit. Make sure teens get plenty of time on these roads while you can assist with coaching them.
· Help them understand how to slow down and gradually pull back onto the pavement should their right wheels drop off the roadway onto the shoulder. Over correcting is a major cause of crashes. Explain that, despite what the speed limit is, hills and curves often limit visibility. These and darkness or weather conditions often dictate traveling at slower speeds.
5. What to do in a crash – Inevitably, despite all your best efforts, sometimes crashes occur. Understanding what to do and not to do is important.
· If the vehicle can be moved safely, pull it out of the traffic lane and safety on the shoulder or designated crash investigation zone. Call 911 right away. The dispatcher may indicate that both drivers should just exchange information. If exchanging information, get it directly from the other driver’s license and registration. Discussing the cause and who’s at fault should be done with the investigating officer as other drivers may tend to blame the teen driver. Don’t admit anything to the other driver. Tempers may be on edge; don’t engage. If you feel threatened or fear for your safety, get back into your vehicle if you can safely do so.
To encourage parents to share their wisdom with younger drivers, AAA is launching a national contest soliciting the best driving advice that parents wish to impart on teen drivers, along with a chance to challenge their own driving smarts by taking the “Are You Smarter than Your Teen Driver?” quiz. Parents can submit entries at Contest.TeenDriving.AAA.com from October 21 through December 11 and will be eligible to win prizes including an iPad® mini and VISA® gift cards. For more information on teen driving and resources for both parents and teens drivers, visit TeenDriving.AAA.com.
## ## ##
AAA Chicago is part of The Auto Club Group (ACG), the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 8.5 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois, Minnesota and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 53 million members in the United States and Canada. Its mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.