One of the most important skills for your teen driver to master is how to properly scan the roads for hazards. Failing to identify hazards is one of the leading factors in teen driver crashes and one reason teens’ crash risk is three times that of more experienced drivers.
Hazards come in many forms – other drivers, potholes and slick roads are a few examples. But animals can be hazards, too. From 2000 to 2012, 1,300 people have been killed in crashes involving animals, according to the National Safety Council’s2014 Injury Facts®.
Any time you drive – in rural, wooded or even suburban areas – you may need to worry about animals on the road. It’s important for teens to understand how to react if an animal darts out in front of the vehicle.
While teaching your teen to drive, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Practice driving especially in rural or wooded areas
- Ask your teen to drive you through the country, parks, suburbs and some smaller towns and cities. Keep a look out for animals such as deer, skunks and coyotes. Family pets such as dogs and cats can wander into the streets, too. Depending on where you live, there is plenty to look out for and avoid.
- While driving, remind teens to always scan the road and also to keep an eye on the roadside. Wooded areas and a lack of streetlights can make it easier to miss things.
Here are a few ways to help reduce the risk of hitting an animal:
- Reducing speed is always a good first step. Open and empty roads often tempt teens to speed.
- At night, teens may think rural roads are safe because they don’t see headlights. But many hazards don’t come equipped with headlights.
- Driving further from the wooded areas will give your teen more time and space to react to animals. For example, if there are two lanes, drive in the one furthest from the wooded area.