As your teen gets fully engaged in school activities, he or she may be itching to hit the road. However, there are safety issues to consider. The National Safety Council reports that teens have automobile crashes at three times the rate of more experienced drivers. The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day remain particularly dangerous for teens because they tend to ride with friends more frequently and stay out later at night, two factors that increase the risk of a serious accident.
If your child does plan to drive to school, you may consider sharing these tips.
Responsibly share the road with cyclists
It’s important that your son or daughter knows how to share the road responsibly with cyclists. Several states have laws requiring motor vehicle drivers to give bicycles about 3 feet of space on the road, so be sure to review your state’s laws with your teen. Also, remind your child to always signal to notify cyclists of his or her intentions.
Wear appropriate footwear
Many teens are still wearing flip flops this time of year. The popular footwear seems to be a must-have in warm weather but is not ideal for driving. Flip-flops can get caught in the brake or accelerator and can also slow down foot movement between the two pedals.
Encourage your teen to pack the beloved shoes in a to-go bag and only wear them when out of the vehicle.
No texting and driving
With school beginning in many parts of the country, teens are busy texting to make plans with friends. Unfortunately, more than four in 10 U.S. teens text while driving – a leading cause of accidents today. Stressing the risks involved with texting and driving is a crucial conversation to have with your teen.
Prepare the car for travel
The late summer heat can take a toll on any vehicle, so preparing the car for autumn travel is essential. These are the basics:
- Test the car’s battery: Hot weather can severely strain a car’s battery. Consumer Reports recommends being proactive in testing your car’s battery and buying a replacement, if necessary.
- Get an oil change, if necessary: Engine oil should be replaced at the recommended intervals stated in the vehicle owner’s manual. You should check the vehicle’s oil level on a monthly basis.
- Inspect tires: Warm weather adds pressure to tires, which could lead to a blowout. Inspecting the vehicle’s tires on a regular basis, including the spare, could help to prevent an issue. Consumer Reports suggests using a tire gauge to check the tire pressure in all four tires and the spare at least once a month. Check to make sure that the tires are set to the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure.
- Maintain fluid levels: If the vehicle your teen will be driving lacks appropriate fluid levels, there’s a chance the car may break down. Maintaining proper fluid levels can also add thousands of miles to the life of the car. Edmunds recommends the engine, transmission, radiator/cooling system, brakes, battery, window washer and air conditioner systems be checked.
Remember that this autumn driving guide applies to drivers of all ages, not just teens. Set a positive example for your child by following these tips. To learn more, visit nationwide.com/ofbf.