Driving Tips for New Teen Drivers in the Summer

Teen Driving in the SummerSummertime is just around the corner and for many parents of teen drivers that comes with some safety concerns. Summer driving is very dangerous for teen drivers. One study by AAA revealed that 980 teen drivers and their passengers were killed in auto accidents between Memorial Day and Labor Day in 2011 and that number is steadily on the rise.

A number of factors contribute to a rise in both accidents and fatalities involving young and inexperienced drivers. We’ve put together some driver safety tips that will help keep your teen safe while driving in summer.

Why Is Summer Driving so Dangerous?

Summer driving has a number of unique qualities that set it apart from driving during the rest of the year. Many of these factors actually contribute to the risks posed to young drivers. In this driver safety guide we’ll walk through each of these specific driving risks and offer some ideas that can help parents protect their teen drivers in summer. By setting expectations and rules before summer gets underway and consistently sticking to the rules throughout summer, parents can make a big difference in how safe their teens are during this risky time of year.

School is Out

Well…obviously. But take a minute to think about it. School takes up about 8 hours of your teen driver’s day. That’s 8 hours they are not driving and you know exactly where they are. They don’t stay out as late when school is in session and the time of day they are driving is typically during daylight hours. The fact is, school removes a great deal of driving risk to your teen by controlling a large number of variables. Summer driving also typically means more late-night driving as teens tend to be out later when school is not in session. Driving after dark has been shown to pose a greater risk to younger, less experienced drivers.

Teen Driver Safety Tip:

Set firm rules regarding driving times. Restricting their driving after dark or while they are at work are good places to start. You can also define driving areas. Let them know that they aren’t allowed to drive outside of a certain area or that they are only allowed to drive to and from certain locations. Remember, teen drivers are still learning. It takes years of experience to become a safe driver. This might also be a good time to remind them that drinking and driving is never a good idea.

They’re Driving with Friends in the Car

Regardless of whether or not you have a rule about your teen driving allowing his or her friends to ride in the car, odds are they are doing it anyways. Research has shown that the more friends in the car, the more likely a teen driver is to get into an accident.

Teen Driver Safety Tip:

Make strict rules regarding how many passengers you teen can have in their car. Ideally, teen drivers who’ve been driving for a year or less shouldn’t have any other teens in the car. In some states, this is actually a law. For slightly more experienced drivers a limit of one friend in the car at a time is within reason. Drivers under the age of 18 (and drivers who have more than 12 months’ worth of driving experience) have been shown to be especially susceptible to being distracted by passengers.

Less Parental Supervision

Teens that drive during the day in summer often do so while their parents are at work (generally, speaking). This makes it harder for the parents to account for and verify their actual location as well as whether or not their teen is driving more than they say they are. The lack of direct supervision often means that teen drivers aren’t taking the precautions that they might normally take, such as regular seatbelt use and being conscious of driving speed.

Teen Driver Safety Tip:

Research shows that teen drivers who aren’t driving with a specific goal such as going to school or work are more likely to be involved in an accident. Keep your teen driver safe by limiting where they drive and why. If they receive permission to go one place and then later on want to go somewhere else, it’s a good idea to have them call a parent to inform them so that arguments and misunderstandings don’t arise later. Clear communication between you and your teen driver is incredibly important.

Rapid Weather Changes

Another issue with summer driving is that the weather changes pretty rapidly in most of the U.S. Many young drivers aren’t experienced in how to handle severe weather while driving.

Teen Driver Safety Tip:

Make sure your teen driver has experience driving in rain. Also, help them learn when it’s raining too hard to drive safely. Checking weather reports before venturing out in the rain can help prevent them from getting caught in dangerous weather. Additionally, there’s some great info at TeenDriving.org that offers tips on driving in inclement weather.

Summer Driving Doesn’t Have to Be Dangerous

The best thing you can do to keep your teen driver safe in summer is to have clear rules regarding when they can drive, where they can drive, and with whom. Research has shown that teens whose parents have rules such as these are safer than teens that can drive without restriction.

Safe Driving Programs

As a parent, one of the best things you can do to keep your peace of mind during the summer is to have your teen take a driver safety course or participate in a driver safety program like Teen SMART. These programs not only help train your teen driver to be safer when they’re behind the wheel. As an added benefit these programs can reduce the cost of your teen driver’s car insurance.

Using Telematics Devices to Benefit you Both

What if you could get information about your teen’s driving habits and reduce the cost of their car insurance at the same time? If your car insurance provider offers a telematics device (think Progressive’s Snapshot device or In-Drive from State Farm) then you could have both. The telematics device records the distance traveled and whether or not there is any hard braking or speeding. If your teen is paying the premium for their car insurance policy, then getting them to not only agree to install it but having them drive safer as a result will be considerably easier than for teens who don’t pay their own auto insurance.

Looking for more help keeping your teen safe this summer?

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