It’s no secret that teen drivers’ lack of experience places them at a greater risk for accidents, but according to recent statistics from AAA, they’re the leading cause of death for those in the 16-to-20 age bracket. Also, while they only represent a small percentage of all drivers on the road, they account for more car accidents than any other age group.

What could be the cause? Multiple studies point to distracted driving – cell phones in particular – as well as interactions with their passengers. Due to these factors, it’s recommended that teens practice the following precautions on the roadways after receiving their license.

1. Turn Off Your Cell Phone

Father handing daughter car keysDid you know that texting keeps a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds – the same time it takes you to drive the length of a football field? So much can happen in 4.6 seconds; for this reason, it’s essential that you not only keep your eyes on the road, but also remain alert as you drive.

2. Keep Your Headlights On

Accidents can also occur when drivers do not make themselves visible to others on the road. As an extremely simple preventative measure, keep your headlights on not only when it’s dark out, but also during early morning, dusk hours and in inclement weather.

3. Obey the Speed Limit

Among all teen male drivers involved in fatal accidents, 37 percent were speeding right before the crash. Because you’re less experienced on the road, it’s essential that you drive within the speed limit – even if other drivers become frustrated, tailgate or pass you.

4. Cut Out Distractions

According to statistics, 11 percent of fatal crashes involving drivers under 20 years of age involved distractions. Even when you turn off your phone, music, put down food and stop conversations, other passengers increase your chances of losing control.

If your car has three or more passengers, your fatal crash risks increase four times than if you were driving alone. Why is this the case? Several studies show that with others in the car, you’re more likely to take risks and be less alert.

5. Always Wear Your Seatbelt

While most of us have been told this from a young age, the driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in 60 percent of fatal crashes involving teens. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also shows that teen drivers who don’t wear their seatbelts believe they’re “harmful.”

6. Never Make Assumptions About Other Drivers

Don’t try to anticipate what another driver is going to do; an incorrect reaction could lead to a serious accident. For instance, just because a driver has a turn signal on, that doesn’t mean he or she will automatically make the signaled move. Rather than passing the driver on the other side, make sure he or she turns in the designated way.

7. Stay Away From Aggressive Drivers

No one likes dealing with aggressive drivers because they often lead to road-rage incidents. Instead, if someone is honking or tailgating, let them pass or pull over to the side of the road to get out of the way.

8. Don’t Pull In Front of Anyone

While driver’s education taught you to pass, there’s a difference between this action and simply pulling out in front of another motorist. This latter move greatly increases your chances of another driver rear-ending you and, depending how many motorists are behind, could even result in a pile-up.

9. Check the Intersection Before You Drive

Green might mean “go,” but always check for stray motorists before you hit the gas. Otherwise, you could get into a collision with the car trailing the yellow light or blatantly defying the red.

10. Avoid Driving at Night

If possible, teens should avoid driving at night. According to statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), most fatal crashes occur between 9pm and midnight, so it’s safer to be home before this hour!

11. Have an Adult Supervise You

After receiving your license, there is still so much more to learn about driving. As a result, it’s recommended – if not required in some states – to have a more experienced adult in the car to supervise your driving habits. He or she can assist you through difficult situations on the road.

12. Never Drink and Drive

You’ve heard this countless times before! While adults are more likely to drive drunk, teens’ crash risks are significantly greater due to a lack of driving experience and low alcohol tolerance. Although figures continue to drop, no one should attempt to drive after having a drink, especially not new drivers.

13. Avoid Driving in Bad Weather

Just like driving at night, your accident risk increases when snow and rain obscure your view and make the roads slippery. Experts recommend to avoid these conditions initially, until you have more experience. Teens may consider a safe-driving program to learn how to drive defensively in snow.

14. Have a Safe Car

While many teens receive hand-me-down vehicles, parents should make sure the car still runs safely. Is the car up-to-date on maintenance repairs and equipped with key safety features, such as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and side-curtain air bags?

Even the safest drivers, regardless of age, can get in car accidents. In the aftermath, an injured driver not only has to deal with time missed from work, but oftentimes an insurance company that refuses to pay fair compensation. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, work with Trantolo & Trantolo. To learn more, contact our car accident attorneys today.