Five Worst Teen Driving Mistakes: Part Three

Most parents live in dread of the day their teens get a driver’s license and get behind the wheel alone. Their concerns are well-founded, since teen drivers have the highest death rates in car crashes of any age group. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among Americans aged 15-20. But parents can help their teens be a safer driver even after they are licensed, particularly by paying attention to common risk factors. In this five-part series, we’ll discuss the five worst teen driving mistakes:

In this, part three of the series, we’ll discuss the difficulty teens have in responding properly to emergency situations. Teens often panic in emergency situations because they have neither the training nor the experience to execute the correct maneuver quickly enough to avoid a crash. They may take no action at all, take too long to react, or overcorrect – which could even make the situation worse.

In a driving emergency, a driver can stop or accelerate, with or without an accompanying turn. Most drivers who act out of panic will simply stop. They may skid to a stop, stop without considering the type of brakes on the vehicle (standard or anti-lock), or slam on the brakes when a more controlled stop is possible. If they try to turn, it is likely to be an uncontrolled turn and is often an overcorrection given the situation. For example, when the right wheels are off the pavement, a panicked driver will quickly yank the steering wheel to the left without slowing down, which could cause a rollover in some vehicles.

Be sure to review the following information with your teen as part of your home driver training program.

Most new vehicles have ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), which allows drivers to stop without skidding. In general, if you need to stop quickly with ABS, press on the brake pedal as hard as you can and keep pressing on it. You might feel the brake pedal pushing back when the ABS is working. Do not let up on the brake pedal. The ABS system will only work with the brake pedal pushed down.

Without ABS, you can cause the vehicle to go into a skid if you brake too hard. Apply the brakes as hard as you can without locking them. If the brakes lock up, you will feel the vehicle start to skid. Quickly let up on the brake pedal. As soon as the vehicle stops skidding, push down on the brake pedal again. Keep doing this until the vehicle has stopped.

In most cases, you can turn the vehicle quicker than you can stop it. You should consider turning in order to avoid a collision. Make sure you have a good grip with both hands on the steering wheel. Once you have turned away or changed lanes, you must be ready to keep the vehicle under control. Some drivers steer away from one collision only to end up in another. Always steer in the direction you want the vehicle to go.

One aspect of having ABS is that you can turn your vehicle while braking without skidding. This is very helpful if you must turn or stop or slow down.

If you do not have ABS, you must use a different procedure to turn quickly. Step on the brake pedal, but then let up and turn the steering wheel. Braking will slow the vehicle some, and it puts more weight on the front tires and this allows for a quicker turn. Do not lock up the front wheels while braking or turn so sharply that the vehicle can only plow ahead.

Another consideration is that generally it is better to run off the road than to crash head-on into another vehicle.

Sometimes it is best or necessary to speed up to avoid a collision. This may happen when another vehicle is about to hit you from the side or from behind and there is room to the front of you to get out of danger. Be sure to slow down once the danger has passed.

Will your teen understand, retain and use the information in the driver handbook, or just memorize enough to pass the test? You can support your teen’s learning and retention of the driver handbook with a new driver prep course. Have your teen start with a Free DMV Practice Test today.

Five Worst Teen Driving Mistakes: Part One
Five Worst Teen Driving Mistakes: Part Two