Teen Driving Guide
Getting your driver’s license is like your first passage into adulthood. You gain a little freedom - but also a lot of responsibility - when you get your license. Before you take your final driving test, you need to know and understand the seriousness of driving and the consequences of reckless or poor driving. This section is meant to help educate you even more on safe driving. And, that includes talking with your parents about their expectations of you as a driver.
Before you get your permit.
Learn the rules of the road. Whether you are currently enrolled in a driver’s education course, or you are awaiting your scheduled time, start paying attention when your parents are driving. Notice how they handle a vehicle and ask questions if you are not sure why they are doing something. The more prepared you are and the more you show your parents your interest in driving safely, the better your chances of being trusted when you are ready to get your permit.
Always remember, driving is a privilege. And, the first time you drive, your parents will be very nervous. Don’t think they are being too strict or over-protective; realize they are worried about your safety because they know the responsibilities and dangers that come with driving a car for the first time. And, don’t forget – they were once teenagers too!
When you get your permit.
Definitely celebrate. And, then get ready for some hard work. Good, safe driving takes practice and patience, so be ready to start out slow, like in an empty parking lot. Ask your parents for as much drive-time as possible. Let them know you want to get good at handling a vehicle – they will respect you for wanting to learn properly.
Understand that you have to start out slowly. You need to learn how to do basic things first, like feeling the car accelerate, determining braking distance, and knowing how to handle turns. Perfect each skill before moving onto the open road.
Ask your parents to let you drive in different weather conditions. You have to learn how to drive safely in rain, fog, snow, etc. And, at night.
Learn as much as you can about the car you will be driving. Know how to put gas in and to check the oil and tire pressure. Learn what the dashboard lights are telling you when lit. And, have a plan for what to do in case your car breaks down. Know if you need to call your parents, a tow truck, or Triple A.
When you get your license.
Show your parents you have learned from your driving lessons and time with your permit. Respect your vehicle and the responsibilities that come with driving. Realize that your parents will be nervous the first time you set off on your own, so talk with them about their expectations of you. What time should you be home?
Who can drive with you? Where can you go? At first, your parents may have restrictions on how long or how far you can drive. But, as you earn their trust, your driving privileges should increase.
Make a pact with your parents about drinking and driving. Let them know you understand the consequences that come with drunk driving and pledge never to get behind the wheel or get in a car with a drunk driver.
Drive your parents around. Just because you can drive solo, still let your folks ride shotgun every now and then. Show them how well your driving skills have progressed and how safe you are. If you allow them to “check up” on you ever so often, they will continue to trust in your driving abilities.
Car Insurance – What your rates really mean.
You have your wheels and your license, but do you have your auto insurance? Have your parents discussed your rates with you? You may be wondering how your auto insurance rate is determined, or why your premium is so high. Here is a breakdown of what can affect the rate you receive.
- Age. Younger drivers (25 and under) are in more car accidents on average. So your age automatically “works against you.” As you get older, you should see decreases in your premiums, as long as you don’t have any accidents or tickets counting against you.
- Gender. Men under 25 generally pay more than women of the same age. Typically, young men are in more accidents than young women.
- Location. Your state and city can affect your rates. Depending on the risk associated with where you live, your insurance may go up based on the average number of accidents or the frequency of theft or vandalism.
- Record. If you are a brand new driver, you should have a clean record. But, if you add accidents or speeding tickets to your record, your insurance will go up as a result – sometimes by a lot!
You can, however, prevent your rates from going up and may even qualify for discounts, like Good Driver or Good Student. Avoiding accidents and speeding tickets is probably the number one way you can avoid rate increases. Talk with your parents about how you can receive the best rates – and keep the best rates!
It is the first time you have driven in rain, fog, or snow. What do you do? You need to first understand what certain weather conditions can do to the roadway and visibility before you set out in traffic. Read below to learn more about weather conditions and how you should handle your vehicle.
Fog can create a driving hazard because it minimizes your ability to see the roadway. Avoid driving in fog altogether if you can. If you must head out, be sure to go slowly. Always keep your headlights on dim and use fog lights if your vehicle is equipped with them. Never use your brights. Be sure to look out for other vehicles’ headlights and tail-lights. They will appear very faintly in fog and probably be a lot closer than they look. So, brake early when coming up behind someone, and be sure to signal your turns well in advance to give drivers behind you plenty of warning.
At the first sign of rain – no matter how light – turn your headlights on! This will help you see better and other drivers see you better. In a lighter rain, roadways can become slippery because of any water, dust, or oil that is already on the road. So, even in a light rain, you should increase your following distance and be more careful on curves or when turning. Also, give yourself plenty of braking time.
During a heavier rain, you need to also be aware of slippery roadways, so reduce your speed and increase your following distance. Heavier rains can also cause your tires to hydroplane. Hydroplaning happens when your tires are riding on a layer of water, not the roadway. Slow down to avoid hydroplaning. If you should begin to hydroplane, remove your foot from the accelerator and ride out the skid.
High winds can wreak havoc, especially on open roads and highways. During extremely high winds, you should reduce your speed and be prepared to make steering corrections if you travel from a protected area (i.e., in between buildings) to an unprotected area (i.e., country roads). Also, be alert if you pass large semi-trucks or cars with trailers in high winds.
Winter Driving - Snow and Ice
Winter driving is probably the most difficult because of snow and ice, lower temperatures, and fewer daylight hours. Be sure to practice driving in winter conditions with a parent or guardian before setting out on your own. You need to know how a vehicle handles differently in winter weather conditions. Keep the following in mind when winter weather appears:
- Before starting out, remove all snow and ice from your vehicle. It is important to maximize your visibility by properly cleaning and scrapping windows. It is also important to make sure your headlights and tail-lights are clear of snow as well.
- Decrease your speed and increase your following distance.
- Get your car ready for winter – make sure your brakes, lights, windshield wipers, defrosters, etc. are in good working order.
- Be careful on bridges or overpasses. They get slippery faster and stay slick longer than the rest of the road.
- Make a winter weather kit. Carry a blanket, water, food, a shovel, and other necessities in the car in case you get stuck.