No class, no homework…only a few summer reading books here and there. You’ve got the time and freedom to hang out with your friends, take exciting road trips and bask in the sun all you want. We all love living easy during summertime, but with that freedom also comes consequence and responsibility.
The months of June, July and August are rated as the deadliest driving months for teens for a reason. AAA took a hard look at data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found that in the past five years, an average of 1,022 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers. That’s more than 10 people every day.
Here are five tips from the Teens Drive Smart team at Bridgestone to help ensure your summer fun is safe… and it all starts with making good decisions BEFORE you put the keys in the ignition and hop behind the wheel.
- Make a plan – Make sure you have a set agenda for where you’re going and how you will get there. Try to avoid finding your way as you go, and be sure to study the directions before you leave. Summer road trips are fun, but crossing into unknown territory is not. Be aware of your route before you start your adventure.
- Avoid driving at night – Summer days are longer, so take advantage of those extra hours of sunshine.. According to Teen Driver Source, the fatal crash rate for 16-year-olds nearly doubles after dark. Play it safe and drive during the day.
- Keep distractions to a minimum – It’s easy to break your focus while driving on summer break – blasting your music with the windows down, sipping a milkshake on your way home, and chatting on the phone with friends as you make your way to the neighborhood pool. Crank your music by the pool and sip your sweet treat there! No need to add to the commotion while driving.
- Focus on the road, not your passengers – While you may be tempted to pile all your friends in the car after a fun day at the lake, try to keep that number as low as possible. The more passengers, the more difficult it can be to focus on the road. Do Something reports that young teen driver death rates increase with each added passenger. Who needs backseat drivers anyways?
- Take care of your tires and your vehicle – Your tires are the only part of the vehicle touching the road, and you need to take care of them! Check your tire pressure at least once a month. Not only will that help make sure your tires remain in tip-top shape, but proper inflation pressure also can help you get better gas mileage. Who doesn’t love extra cash?! Also, if you’re planning a road trip to the beach or somewhere out of town, make sure you get your vehicle inspected by a professional before hitting the road. Keep the three B’s in mind—Brakes, Battery, Blades (wiperblades) are a three key things you’ll want a technician to evaluate, in addition to your tires.
While these tips may seem like a lot to remember, they’re the ticket to a more carefree summer. Being a new driver can be daunting, but it can also be a fun experience! Just remember: Above all, stay focused on the road and drive safe. You got this!