2004-09-03 / Columnists

Driving Tips For Teens Heading For School

The morning chill is a brisk reminder that the summer is ending and the school year is beginning.  For some high school students, the new school year means the ultimate in teen freedom, abandoning the school bus and driving to school. That freedom, however, comes with weighty responsibility that some teens may not be taking seriously enough.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, young people between the ages of 16 and 20 years old have the highest rate of fatal crashes, relative to other age groups (including the elderly). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded that nearly 3,723 drivers in the age group died in automobile accidents in the year 2002 and, based on preliminary data, 3,656 in 2003. Those facts and figures, just like September mornings, can be chilling.

In order to help young drivers better understand the importance of driving safely, Allstate Insurance Company is encouraging young drivers and parents to pick up its New Driver Handbook and the Parent-Teen Workbook and Driving Log (both free at your local agent). In addition to safety tips (like the ones below), the materials are designed to help give new drivers the information they need to make responsible choices.

· Drive straight. Alcohol and drugs will slow your reaction time.

· Buckle up. Air bags are made to work WITH safety belts. Don’t even start driving until you and your passengers are strapped in.

· Take a defensive driving class. Get a 10% discount on certain coverage and learn how to watch out for the other guy.

· Know your car. It is cool to use and check your car’s safety features, such

as door locks, sun visors, parking brakes, and mirrors. Know what each

feature does, how to work it, and when to use it.

· Play defense. Watch out. Don’t be competitive. Don’t race. Don’t stress.

Don’t tailgate. Keeping four seconds of space between your car and the

vehicle in front of you is smart defensive driving.

· Count. Never take more passengers than safety belts.

· Pay attention.  Eliminate all distractions to ensure you follow the rules of the road. Blasting music, talking on the phone, eating, studying, and putting on make up are all distractions that could prevent you from following the safety rules of the road.

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