(Technically, this could also apply to experienced drivers. So parents, you’re not off the hook.)
Happy New Year!
At Safety 1st, we like to dream big. Our biggest hope for 2016 is that NO young people will be killed as a result of driving accidents (or anything, really, but obviously our focus is on driving).
Our life’s work is to teach young Orange Countians (not a real word) to become safe, skilled drivers. Let’s be real: it’s a tough time to be in this industry. Smart phones and social media seem to have been a major downfall for teenage drivers. It’s so easy to become distracted while driving, and with all the traffic and congestion in Orange County, a driver simply cannot afford to have his or her focus on anything but the road. Especially a young, inexperienced driver.
And even if your teen is a conscientious driver, there’s no guarantee they’re not sharing the road with a maniac.
Sadly, teenagers are risk-takers by nature. (That’s why their insurance is so high, no joke.) They get in more accidents than any other demographic. They drive too fast, follow too closely, and get distracted too easily. Add to that their lack of skill with maneuvering and responding to hazards appropriately, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
On the plus side, cars are being built safer than ever before, and technology is improving constantly to keep drivers’ hands on the wheel at all times. And if awareness keeps being raised, and teenagers are encouraged to make good decisions behind the wheel, AND if parents stay involved in their teens’ lives by modeling and enforcing good driving habits, we believe the statistics can be reversed.
Did you make some New Year’s Resolutions this year? If you did, chances are you focused on bad habits you’d like to quit and good habits you’d like to adopt. Who’s to say that driving habits can’t be a part of those good habits?
We want to encourage all our students, parents, and ALL Orange County drivers, to make the following guidelines part of your New Year’s Resolutions for 2016:
1. I will always wear my seat belt.
Period, end of story. It can save your life.
2. I will NEVER text while driving.
It’s easy enough to say that, until one day something epic happens and your phone is blowing up and you just can’t handle the suspense. So, to make this goal really stick, take some actions such as:
- silence your phone when you get in the car, and
- put your phone in your purse, bag, or glove compartment – out of sight until you reach your destination
3. I will keep my eyes on the road – even if my phone beeps or a song comes on that I don’t like.
Distracted driving is a major contributor to accidents. In just a couple of seconds looking away from the road (at your phone, radio, iPod, etc.) a pedestrian can enter the road, you can swerve out of your lane, another driver can be cutting you off – any number of things can happen that can be devastating.
4. I will NEVER drive after drinking or taking any drugs.
If you’re under 21, please don’t drink at all. If you’re 21 or over, please be smart. If you know you’re going out for some drinks, arrange transportation home ahead of time. With Uber and other driving services, it’s easier and cheaper than ever.
If you’re going to a party, stay put. And remember, you may think you’re sober when you’re not yet. Better to be safe than sorry. You do NOT want a DUI, or worse – a DUI and an accident – on your record and your conscience.
5. I will follow the posted speed limits.
Of all the teenage deaths we’ve reported about over the past couple of years, nearly all of them cited high speeds as a factor causing the accident. (This is more often a problem with young men.) Too much can happen out on the roads – it’s better to expect the unexpected and drive defensively, obeying the posted speed limits. They’re there for a reason.
If you have a need for speed, take lessons at a nearby speedway. Otherwise, there are plenty of go kart tracks you can frequent.
6. I will be safer and more cautious, even if it will make me late.
Drive safely, and defensively. We’d rather you arrive to your destination in one piece and an hour late, than not at all.
7. I will be patient with other drivers.
Even if you don’t have road rage, it’s easy to get annoyed with someone driving too slow, or following too closely to you, that you respond with a sudden maneuver or do something emotional and erratic to make your point.
Remember, any sudden move that someone else isn’t ready for could cause an accident. Don’t change lanes quickly without signaling and looking, don’t slam on your brakes, don’t suddenly gun it, and for goodness sake, don’t flip people off. Also remember: there are crazies out on the roads, and some of them may get so angry that they want to hurt you.
Above all, stay safe in 2016! If you need help becoming a more skilled, defensive driver, contact Safety 1st for driving lessons today!