Throughout the fall, thousands of teens move out of the house to college. As always, it’s important to drive with caution. Make sure your teen heeds these tips for traveling safely to and from college, to lessen the chances of being involved in a crash this fall.
Buckle up. Despite a nationally high seat belt usage rate, teens still do not buckle up regularly. Make sure your teen is safely buckled. Wearing a seat belt can mean the difference between life and death in a crash.
Check tires. Remind your teen to give his or her tires a thorough inspection before heading out this fall. Your teen should test the air pressure and inspect for any leaks or punctures that could cause problems on the road. Make sure there is a spare tire in the trunk in case anything goes wrong.
Service your vehicle. Before taking any kind of road-trip, it is a good idea to have the car inspected to ensure it is running properly. Have the oil changed, tires rotated and battery checked to prevent breakdowns on the highways.
Observe speed. It is extremely important to monitor speed at all times. This is especially important when driving on major highways, and through towns where the speed may only be 25 mph. Unfortunately, young drivers struggle with driving the appropriate speed, in part because they are inexperienced. Remind your teen to pay attention for changes in speed.
Have patience. Your teen could be more likely to experience traffic when traveling, especially on the weekends. Remind your teen to take it easy and do not rush or drive erratically. It is better to arrive late but safely than to never arrive at all.
Watch out. Talk to your teen about paying attention to the road and surroundings. Scanning the driving environment is another difficult skill for teens to master. Remind your teen to never use a cell phone – handheld or hands-free – or fiddle with an MP3 player, and to be especially careful of other drivers, as they may not be paying close attention. Your teen should also watch for pedestrians, as they have the right of way at crosswalks. College campuses often are full of crosswalks, and in many states, drivers must stop even if there isn’t a stop sign.
Be prepared. Help your teen pack an emergency kit before he or she leaves. Include first aid items as well as flares and reflective traffic warning triangles to warn other drivers in the event of a breakdown.
Jason is a driver’s education professional in Lower Bucks County, PA.