Distracted Driving Tips for Teens: Be a Better Passenger
Remember when you were in high school, cruising on a summer night with your friends in tow? With summer just around the corner, your teen is likely looking forward to a similar experience. Today, many states place restrictions on the number and ages of passengers that accompany a new driver. And for good reason: Teen drivers are three times as likely to have an accident as drivers 20 and older, according to the says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. One common cause of these accidents, says the National Institutes of Health, is distracted driving.
With every teen passenger added to the vehicle, the crash risk increases, notes KidsHealth.org. While many states have laws limiting the number or age of passengers a new driver can have, KidsHealth.org suggests parents make their own rules that extend past the restrictions of the law. These can then be adjusted as the teen gets older and more experienced.
But what about the passengers? Knowing they can be a problem, can they do anything to help reduce the risk of accidents while riding along? Make sure your teen remembers these distracted driving safety tips the next time she catches a ride.
Pay Attention to the Road
Even though the riders don’t actually have their hands on the wheel and foot on the gas, they have an extra set of eyes and ears that can sense problems. Race car driver and commentator Tommy Kendall told AutoBlog that passengers should do things like look around the car for obstructions or other vehicles (particularly when turning or backing up), get out of the way when the driver needs to see out the side window, and be the navigator when going to a new place.
Keeping an eye on the road is not the same thing as being a backseat driver. Twitter Icon
Don’t Add Stress
Keeping an eye on the road is not the same thing as being a backseat driver. While it’s important to support safe driving habits and be alert for road issues, passengers who point out everything the driver does wrong or make comments about how their friend is driving simply make the trip more stressful, says Kendall. TeenDriverSource.org suggests that passengers show the driver respect by staying calm while riding and not pressuring the driver to go too fast.
Be Better Passengers as a Group
Since more passengers may mean greater risk, it’s important that all passengers are mindful of their actions. Kendall told AutoBlog that having more people in the car means more opportunity for teen distracted driving and can result in the car crossing into other lanes or slowing down. To combat the extra commotion, Kendall suggests passengers keep their voices down, turn the music to a lower level and pay attention to what’s happening outside the car.
Put the Electronics Away
When drivers text while driving, they are up to 23 times more likely to get into an accident. But, passengers using electronics can also be a distraction. Kendall says passengers should keep their phones away while the car is in motion. This is because being on the phone both takes away the passenger’s awareness and could cause the driver to listen in on the conversation, which prevents him from having his full attention on the road.
While accidents can’t always be prevented, teenage riders should do everything possible to be a good passenger. Teaching teens to be aware of the hazards associated with riding with their friends is the first step toward safer adolescent drivers.