Driving is a privilege, not a right. With this privilege comes responsibilities, obligations and potential consequences.If you or someone you know is a new driver, the following tips may prove invaluable when getting behind the wheel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for 15 to 20 year olds. This accounts for forty percent of all teen deaths.So, teaching your teen to be careful and safe when driving can make the difference in not only their self-preservation, but also that of others.
A good start, is knowing what the laws and restrictions are for teen drivers. According to the DPS, during the one year period following the issuance of a Class C provisional driver license to a person under 18 years of age, the person may not operate a motor vehicle
Between midnight and 5a.m.
With more than one passenger in the vehicle under 21 years of age who is not a family member
While using a wireless communication device.
Another topic of discussion with your teen is the price of insurance. Insurance rates for teens are often double what adults over twenty five pay. Why? Because teens have an average of three accidents between 16 and 20. Some parents find that having their teens pay their own insurance will reduce recklessness and inattention. Distractions are one of the main causes of accidents for new drivers.
In addition to collisions, knowing the current seat belt law, school zone laws, school bus laws, and many other “typically” broken laws are very important to reinforce. Currently, the seat belt law in Texas requires that everyone in the car must wear a safety belt. If the person not wearing the safety belt is of age, they get their own ticket. If under age, the driver gets the ticket. I recently had a 16 year old student tell me that she got a ticket for speeding in front of her high school. The school zone lights were “active” and the ticket was very costly. In addition, her two 16 year old friends were not wearing their seat belts. She got both of the seat belt tickets. So she came home from school that day with a speeding in a school zone ticket and two no seat belt tickets. I don’t know what happened to her, but my parents would have killed me and started all over again. Wiped the slate clean and started a whole new, cheaper family. And she didn’t mention that she wasn’t supposed to have more than one friend in the car with her at a time. Another huge fine. Passing a school bus with it’s alternating flashing red lights is another very dangerous act with a huge fine attached. And knowing what to do on the opposite side of the street from the bus is important to stress, too. Coming to a complete stop at a stop sign or before taking a right at a red light is another. Counting 3 seconds to assure that the car has come to a complete stop is a good habit to get into. Changing lanes in an intersection and having a Hello Kitty bumper sticker are other good reasons for the cops to pull you over.
A few things I will be teaching my teen driver? To practice safe and courteous driving behavior. Perhaps, if she drove as if everyone around her had a small child in the car, maybe she wouldn’t pull any bone-headed moves. Like crossing 3 lanes across traffic to take her exit. And, perhaps if she drove as if everyone had a gun in the car (and in Texas, they do), maybe she’d be a little more courteous out there when she’s driving.
Until next week….be safe!
(Daun Thompson is a comedienne, writer and artist residing in Dallas, Texas)