According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes remain the number one cause of death for teens in our nation. According to the National Safety Council, there is an 89% chance of one crash in the first three years of driving.
With support from Kia Motors America – which includes 32 Kia vehicles – B.R.A.K.E.S. provides hands-on-defensive driving training at no cost to participants. To date, B.R.A.K.E.S. has trained more than 17,000 teens and their parents. Parents play a critical role in instilling good habits.
The statistics involving teens behind the wheel are alarming:
· Teens are 400% more likely to die in a car crash than 25-34 year old drivers. (National Safety Council)
· Teens have the highest crash rate of any age group. (CA Dept. Motor Vehicles)
· The crash rate for drivers 16-19 year olds is four times as high as that of drivers 20 and older. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
· Drivers under the age of 20 have the largest proportion of fatal accidents involving distracted driving. (NHTSA)
· Teens with parents who set driving rules and monitor their activities are half as likely to crash, 71 percent less likely to drive intoxicated, 30 percent less likely to use a cell phone when driving and less inclined to speed (Governors Highway Safety Association)
Doug Herbert is founder of B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe). The program provides teens with hands on defensive driving training at no cost. I had a chance to interview him to get some great tips.
You can also learn more with these tips:
1. Establish a safe driving contract with your teen. It is important to keep an open line of communication regarding safe driving habits. Visit http://putonthebrakes.org/parents-teens to download a contract today and be sure to display it in a prominent location such as your refrigerator at home as an ongoing reminder to you and your teen.
2. While your teen likely will never admit it, you serve as a role model and often help shape their habits – driving and otherwise. Remember to always wear your seatbelt, never drink and drive and avoid distractions – including texting!
3. Ensure your teen does not become reliant on cruise control to maintain appropriate speeds. Cruise control should be avoided when roads are wet, since many systems do not compensate for slick roads and may cause an unintentional loss of control.
4. Encourage your teen to leave space between them and large trucks. An 80,000-pound truck is not very maneuverable and has many blind spots. Teach your teen to not squeeze into spaces in front of a truck. Trucks require a large stopping distance. Also, teach your teen to not ride alongside a truck, especially along the right side. Large trucks have many blind spots and often cannot see vehicles alongside them. This is especially dangerous since trucks have a large turning radius.
5. Encourage your teen to drive defensively. Remind your teen to keep their eyes up and look through the car ahead of them. This will help your teen be ready to respond to traffic situations around them.
6. Give your teen a “Hall Pass.” In other words let them know that you will give them a ride home from ANY bad situation with NO consequence. Discuss with your teen that they may have made a bad decision that could have had a very bad outcome but calling you for a safe ride home was a good decision.
7. Teach your teen to properly adjust their mirrors to reduce blind spots. Proper side mirror adjustment slightly overlaps with the rear view mirror, in other words, you will NOT be able to see your rear of your car in your side view mirrors, they will be adjusted farther outward and therefore reducing the blind spots.
8. Practice, practice and more practice. You spend countless hours practicing for sports including football, soccer, baseball, etc. with your teen. Driving with your teen is important and critical to helping them develop into a safe and responsible driver. The more hours a teen can spend behind the steering wheel of a car the better. Practice makes perfect!
9. Talk to your teen about safe following distances. Highway speeds require increased following distances. As a general rule of thumb the minimum following distance should be at least one car length per 10 mile per hour, in other words allow six car lengths for a speed of 60 miles per hour. At night or during poor visibility or rain these following distances need to be increased. If someone is tail gating you or following to close pull over or let them pass. Remember faster traffic is always encouraged to be in the left hand highway lanes and slower traffic and trucks in the right lanes.
10. Keep initial driving lessons to less than 30 minutes and increase the times commensurate with the teens ability. Do not bring additional passengers along and most importantly, keep your cool. Expect mistakes and don’t over react or over correct. Don’t expose your teen driver to heavy traffic or situations that require more advanced capabilities until you decide they are ready to tackle it.
B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by NHRA Mello Yellow Series Top Fuel drag racer Doug Herbert in memory of his two sons, Jon and James, who were tragically killed in a car accident. The B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-Active Driving School is a free, defensive driving program. By training and educating teenage drivers and their parents, the program aims to promote safe driving in an attempt to prevent injuries and save lives. To volunteer, obtain more information or donate please visit www.putonthebrakes.org