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We could write a book on safe driving.

Actually, we did: the Florida Driver Handbook.
But in case you want just a few nuggets to share with your teen for now, here are a handful of pointers to keep in mind:

  • Buckle up.
  • Adjust mirrors and seats before turning on the vehicle.
  • Turn on your headlights, day and night, for safety.
  • Stop completely at stop signs and red lights. Brake smoothly, and avoid slamming on the brakes. When stopping behind another car, stay at a distance from which you can see the tires of the vehicle in front of you.
  • When proceeding from a stop: look left, right, straight ahead, then left again before moving.
  • When backing up, do not rely on the rear view mirror. Always turn and look directly behind you. Check all directions to make sure the way is clear.
  • Remain 15 feet away from trucks on all sides. If you can't see truck drivers in their mirrors, they can't see you either.
  • Don't exceed the speed limit. The chance of death or serious injury doubles for every 10 miles per hour over 50 mph that a vehicle travels. At high speeds, errors such as turning too quickly or braking too sharply can result in an out-of-control vehicle. Speed increases braking distance: If you double your speed, quadruple your braking distance. At high speeds, the amount of time available to detect and react to unexpected events is shortened.
  • Vehicle weight increases breaking distance: The greater the vehicle weight, the greater the braking distance.

For more driving tips, consult the manual.

Dangerous Distractions

French fries can kill you.

And not because of the fat content.

Trying to dip your fries in ketchup while navigating traffic is dangerous. Driving while distracted is hazardous for everyone, especially inexperienced teen drivers. Maximize safety. Minimize distractions.

Common distractions:
  • Arguing with your friend.
  • Chugging that last gulp of water.
  • Fighting over the radio station.
  • Applying makeup.
  • Reading directions or a map.
  • Teen passengers:
    Teen passengers can be a major distraction. They may unintentionally encourage teen drivers to speed, show off, play loud music or not pay enough attention to driving. They may challenge teen drivers to do risky things like speeding, tailgating or weaving in and out of traffic.

    Teen crash rates are lowest with no teen passengers. They increase with one teen passenger and increase even more with two teen passengers.
  • See Safety Video

Night Driving

Driving at night is particularly dangerous for teens.

  • It's harder to see.
  • Distance and speed are harder to judge.
  • More impaired and unsafe drivers are on the road.
Driving at night increases the likelihood and severity of crashes. The risk of being in a fatal crash is highest for teens between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Before you drive unsupervised at night, you should have several months of daytime driving experience and extensive supervised practice driving at night.

Wet Conditions

  • Maintain traction.
    Start and stop gradually and drive at steady speeds.
  • Skids
    If your vehicle begins to skid, remove your foot from the accelerator or brake and steer in the direction of the skid.
  • Braking
    Be gentle with brake pressure during slippery road conditions. Avoid braking on curves by driving through them at a safe, steady speed. Gear down for both uphill and downhill.

Know What Teens are Doing

Car Surfing – A REALLY BAD Idea: In recent decades, teens and even some adults have tried car surfing -- riding on the exterior of a motor vehicle. Some also consider car surfing to include holding onto a motor vehicle while riding in a shopping cart, on top of a skateboard or another object rolling.

  • Despite the method of choice, it is extremely dangerous.
  • Just because people post videos of such stunts, it does not make it a good idea.
  • Thrill-seekers have died while car surfing. A recent *study of news reports between 1990 and 2008, counted 58 deaths and 41 non-fatal injuries that resulted from car surfing.
  • Talk to your teen and encourage him/her to think twice before engaging in such dangerous behavior. What may seem like an adrenaline rush and harmless fun, is illegal and on numerous occasions deadly.
  • Parents should be aware of the potentially lethal consequences of car surfing, which can occur even at low vehicle speeds, sometimes resulting from unanticipated movements of the vehicle, such as swerving or braking.
  • Raised awareness among parents, educators, law enforcement personnel and health practitioners might help improve decision-making among teen drivers and improve recognition of the activity by health care providers.
  • Think it does not happen here? Think again. Wendy Bieberle of Winter Park, Fla., lost her 18-year-old son, Cameron, to a car surfing accident on March 8, 2008. Wendy’s statement below describes what happened.
“He had recently watched Jackass with his friends. They were at an apartment complex where some shopping carts had been left out. He decided to go for what I assume seemed like a fun ride at the time in one of the shopping carts and held on to the side of the car. The driver was going approximately 30 mph and drove over a speed bump, which Cameron did not intend to do. Cameron died at the scene from massive head injuries.”

 

**Some Car Surfing Facts

  •  A majority (75 percent) of car surfing injuries reported came from the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States.
  • Most of the injuries were among males (70 percent.)
  • Most of the injuries were among teens, ages 15-19 years (69 percent.)
  • Injuries from car surfing occurred in August more than any other month of the year. May followed as the second highest month.

*Conducted by the Center for Disease Control
**Based on the CDC Study

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