Tips and Tools for Teen Driver Safety

It's Teen Driver Safety Week, time to update teens on driving risks, rules of the road, safety apps and technology, and what to do when an accident happens.

Teen Driver Rules; Car Tips For Back To School; Safety Tips
Teen drivers need to understand safety rules and your rules for using the family car. Photo: Rebecca Darling

All the Things You Want to Know about Teen Driver Safety

October 15-21 is National Teen Driver Safety Week, and it’s as good a time as any to remind yourself or your teenager of safe driving habits. It is important to practice safe driving habits, but it’s also important to know what to do in the event of an accident. Because let’s face it, many teens are going to have their first accident in the coming years, and they might not know what to do in the aftermath.

These driving tips and tools that monitor driving behavior are vital for ensuring teen driver safety and immediate access to emergency services.

In The Equinox Vs Traverse Debate, Equinox Wins In Terms Of Connectivity.

Tweens and teens love the connectivity of the Equinox. Photo: Maria Smith

Understanding the Risks with Teen Driver Safety

The dangers for young, new drivers on the road are staggering. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, teenage drivers were involved in accidents that killed 2,608 people in 2021. While many of us are already aware that car crashes are a leading cause of death among teens, the deeper data might surprise you.

For example, 51% of the teen drivers who died in 2021 were not wearing a seatbelt. I had no idea that so many teens don’t wear a seatbelt. Also, the likelihood of a teen engaging in risky driving behavior triples when there are multiple passengers in the car.

Sadly, it is less surprising that 19% of teen drivers involved in fatal car crashes had alcohol in their systems.

The statistics are deeply concerning. I myself was a terrified new driver because I felt like I was bound by the statistics to crash. But it is possible to make the road a safer place for teens. Learning the “Rules of the Road” and enforcing good driving habits are proven to decrease teens’ risk of a fatal crash.

The “Rules of the Road” include no speeding, cell phone use, drowsy driving, or drugs. And always buckle your seatbelt!

Aside from these blanket advisories, I also have two extremely important rules for myself:

  • Stay in your comfort zone: Taking risks and pushing yourself into uncomfortable situations might be great for making new friends or achieving goals. But that behavior has no place on the road where you can easily harm yourself and others.
    • Always go the speed you are comfortable with to stay in control.
    • Take familiar routes. While it’s important to have experience driving in traffic and on the highway, sometimes there are safer and easier routes that only add a minute or two to your drive. In high school, I always avoided this terrible intersection near my house because I was nearly hit multiple times and saw other horrific accidents there. Not only was it safer, but it was often faster for me to cut through the CVS parking lot. It’s not silly if it makes you feel safer.
    • Staying in your comfort zone also means setting boundaries. If someone is extremely distracting or stressful to have in the car, stop letting them in your car. When I was learning to drive, I eventually set a boundary for driving with my mom. Yes, my own mother. Instead, I learned to drive with my dad and older brother. The same goes for friends. I know a lot of people who need to set boundaries with friends they’ve been carting around to school.
  • Watch out for your friends. As a teenager, there are a lot of situations where you are not in control. Sometimes your only option is to ride with friends, and they aren’t always the best drivers. Even when you’re relaxing in the passenger seat with the company of a good friend, stay aware. Keep an eye on the cars in front of you, and check blindspots while they are switching lanes or turning. Backseat driving isn’t going to make your friend a better driver, but at least you can keep them from hitting someone.
    • Watching out for friends also means making sure they aren’t listening to music too loud, drinking and driving, hitting a weed pen in the middle of giving you a ride or getting in a car with other dangerous drivers. These things unfortunately happen all the time.

Now, I can say I’ve survived the sketchy years as a teen driver. I turn 20 next month, so now I can only blame my *fun* driving on being from Texas.

Jokes aside, a new Forbes analysis ranks Texas as the state with the worst, most dangerous licensed drivers. That would explain a lot of the terrifying close calls I’ve had with Texas drivers. You can also see where your state stands in terms of fatal crashes, intoxicated drivers, and distracted driving.

A Gently Used Car For A New Teen Driver Can Still Come With The Car Safety Features You NeedA gently used car for a young new driver can still come with the teen driver safety features you need. Photo: A Girls Guide to Cars

Driver Safety Apps – Not Just for Teens!

Lots of apps can monitor driver behavior using your location and speed. They also identify if you’ve been in an accident and can immediately call emergency services.

While tracking apps like this may sound like a parent’s dream and a teen’s nightmare, teens can actually benefit too.

In fact, I know a lot of teens who use these apps without their parents’ involvement. Teens use them to bring friends together and make sure everyone is safe. You can add friends in many of the apps, and set locations like your home, school, work, and your friends’ houses. That way, you can be notified when your friends leave the house, arrive at school, or arrive home safely.

Popular and trusted apps that provide these services include:

  • Life360
  • RoadReady
  • SafeDrive
  • AutoCoach
  • TrueMotion Family

Related: 3 Teen Driver Apps We Love

Safety Features To Help Teen Drivers

Introduce the best teen driver safety to your loved one with safety technology. Photo: AGirlsGuidetoCars

Car Safety Features You Need

While I’ve gotten along pretty well with my 2012 Volkswagen Passat, which has zero technology or safety features, I always wish I had SOMETHING to help me stay safe and alert.

I started writing this article last week, feeling confident in my driving skills and ability to give advice to others because I had never been in a single car accident.

A few days later, a police vehicle hit my car while driving down a main road. He side-swiped me, then drove off (yes, that’s a crime). It was a minor accident, but now I really wish I had blind spot monitors to warn me that the vehicle was approaching my driver’s side. I could have potentially avoided the accident.

If you or your teen are in the market for a new car, look for these important safety features in a new car or think about adding them to an older car:

  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Backup Camera
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Collision Avoidance System
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Dash Cam! These are so important for ALL drivers in the event of a crash or even theft.

Yes, I have survived without all of these features. But I am an extremely cautious driver, and most teens I know are not. Many of my friends also didn’t have newer cars with these features, but I know their driving history…many accidents, close calls, and distracted driving could have been prevented if they had these features. So if it’s in your budget, it’s worth it.

To learn more about these features, read “8 Car Safety Features to Protect Your Teen Driver.”

A Girls Guide To Cars | Tips And Tools For Teen Driver Safety - Me And Estee In The Land Rover Defender

Keeping teen driver safety at the top of your mind is essential for young people to avoid accidents. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What to Do When You’ve Had a Car Accident

In the unfortunate event of a car accident, it can be hard to stay calm and remember what to do.

Be prepared for an accident by downloading your car insurance app and staying logged in, or have a copy of your insurance card in the glove box. If you have AAA, roadside assistance or another resource, be sure to have the phone number and your account number on hand.

If an accident happens, safely pull over to the side of the road, if possible, and avoid traffic. If the accident is severe, or if anyone is hurt, call 911 as soon as possible. Check for oncoming traffic before attempting to exit the vehicle. Assess the damage and take pictures. Note the time the accident occurred and anything else you can remember about how the accident happened.

Get the names, insurance information, license plate number, and other important information from the other driver(s) involved in the accident.

Call a parent or someone who can help to inform them of the accident, and let them know you’re safe. They will make sure you get home safely and can help you navigate the aftermath or file an insurance claim.

If the other driver does not pull over, you can call 911 or your local non-emergency number if you are safe and unharmed. You can also file a police report, which often can be done online.

But let’s hope that never happens. If you know the rules of the road, have safety apps to stay connected and your car is loaded with safety technology, National Teen Driver Safety Week will just be another event in your rear view mirror.

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Eden is a freelance writer and editor. She is based in Austin, Texas where she is pursuing a bachelor's... More about Eden Shamy