Top Ten Bad Driving Habits By Teens
March 9, 2014
When teens first start learning to drive, they are usually very careful and willing to listen to advice but, once they get their operator’s license and start driving on their own, some seem to think that all the rules and safe driving advice were just for the driving exam and no longer apply to them. That attitude quickly turns to tragedy for some with an average of six teens killed and 493 injured in traffic crashes every day. More than half of all teen crashes are single vehicle crashes, meaning that, due to high speed or distractions, the teen ran off the road and crashed; no other cars were involved.
The following list of bad teen driving habits isn’t in any particular order. One could be just as bad as another but separately or combined, they are all dangerous.
1. Driving distracted – One of the biggest hazards on the road today is distracted driving. We’ve all heard about the dangers of texting and cell phone use but there are other distractions as well, such as;
- Paying more attention to passengers than to the road ahead.
- Eating and drinking
- Loud music
- Applying makeup
- Looking at things out the window instead of at the road.
- Adjusting the radio or loading CDs
All of these distractions can take your eyes off the road just long enough for a dangerous problem to creep up unnoticed.
2. Speeding – Speeding kills! Approximately one-third of all the traffic deaths in the US each year are due to speeding. The faster you go, the less control you have over your vehicle and the less time you have to react in an emergency situation. The greater the speed – the higher the crash forces. Speeding doesn’t just mean going over the posted speed limit. It also means driving too fast for conditions such as, rain, fog, or snow. According to the laws of physics and motion, an object in motion tends to remain in motion; in a straight line. Too many teens each day drive too fast, lose control of their vehicles on curves, and, following the laws of physics, continue in a straight line off the roadway and into a crash.
3. Not wearing a seat belt – The seat belt is the single most important safety device in the car. As mentioned before, an object in motion wants to remain in motion. That means in a crash, when the car stops violently, the unbelted bodies inside will continue traveling at the same speed until they crash into the steering wheel, dashboard, or through the windshield. The crash forces are tremendous. In a 25 mph crash, a 100 lb. girl without a seatbelt will hit the steering wheel or dashboard with a force of 2,090 lbs. No matter what type of crash you may experience or how severe the crash may be, you are always safer securely fastened into your seat belt. Your seat belt can help keep you conscious so that you can escape the vehicle in case of fire or crashing into water. Don’t depend on airbags to keep you safe in a crash. Airbags only work correctly if you are properly belted in and they don’t work in every type of crash.
4. Over-correcting – Teens who get distracted or who drive too fast often find themselves running off the side of the roadway. The natural instinct in that situation is to jerk the wheel (over-correct) back onto the roadway but that can be the most dangerous thing to do. If you turn your vehicle too sharply, it can result in a skid and lead to the vehicle flipping over. Over-correcting can also cause you to turn into the other lane, into on-coming traffic. If you feel yourself leaving the roadway, grip the wheel firmly, take your foot off the gas and gently apply the brakes to slow down. Once you have slowed to a safe speed, check for traffic behind and then re-enter the roadway. This is a maneuver that should be practiced and drivers should think about what they would do in this type of emergency; that way they will be less likely to give in to the natural instinct to over-correct.
5. Ignoring the risks – Young drivers often have an attitude of “It’ll never happen to me.” and tend to ignore the risks they are taking behind-the-wheel. Running red lights or pulling out too soon into on-coming traffic can have tragic consequences. Passing in no-passing zones or driving too fast on winding, curving roads while ignoring the possibility of traffic or dangers over the next hill or around the next curve can cause loss of control. Adjust your speed for conditions and assume there is a hazard ahead that you aren’t aware of yet.
6. Too many passengers – Too many passengers in a car can be very distracting. Often, teens who would otherwise wear a seat belt, neglect to wear one when there are other teens in the vehicle. Teens tend to show off and take greater risks when peers are in the vehicle. Graduated Driving Laws in many states limit the number of non-family passengers a teen can carry for those very reasons.
7. Driving Drowsy – Teens need more sleep than adults but their lifestyle often leads them to get less sleep than they need. Driving when you’re tired can be very dangerous. Shaking your head or opening the window won’t work to keep you alert. If your body needs sleep, it will go to sleep and, it’s impossible to tell exactly when you might nod off. If you feel yourself becoming drowsy, stop the car. Get out and walk around or better yet, take a short nap. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee or cola can help but it takes time for the effects of the caffeine to kick in. After drinking a caffeinated drink, take a short nap while you wait for the effects to kick in. Don’t rely on heavily caffeinated drinks such as Red Bull to make up for loss of sleep.
8. Drinking under the influence – Probably the biggest lie teens tell themselves is that they are OK to drive after drinking or using drugs. Alcohol and marijuana give people a false sense of ability leading them to take chances they might not otherwise take. Remember that buzzed driving is impaired driving; your driving abilities will be impaired after just one drink. Don’t run the risk of losing your license or, worse yet, killing yourself or others.
9. Seat position – So many young people like to appear relaxed while driving and set the seat back or recline it too far for safety. Few people realize that the seat itself is a safety device. Leaning the seat back too far can lead to severe back and neck injuries if you are hit from the rear. Putting the seat back in the full upright position and placing the headrest so that it just barely touches the back of your head will protect you if you are hit from behind. Setting the seat back too far can keep you from having full control of the steering wheel and other instruments. Place your seat so that, if you stretch your arm straight out, your wrist rests on top of the steering wheel. That distance should give you full control and keep you from being too close to the airbag if it should deploy.
10. Not watching for hazards – Hazards exist everywhere on the road. Assuming that nothing will go wrong is the wrong choice. You should assume that something will go wrong and look for and predict what could possibly go wrong. If you see a speeding driver in your rearview mirror, assume that he will pass and possibly cut you off. A child playing near the street could run out in front of you. That vehicle parked by the curb could pull out in front of you. Moving ahead, once your light turns green, without first checking for someone trying to beat the light on the cross street could lead to a crash. Assume the worst thing that could happen and chances are, someday, it probably will.
Driving is a complex task and it requires all of your attention, all of the time.