Scott Fowler

5 tips for teenaged drivers – and 5 more for their parents

BRAKES driving instructor Ricordo Rodriguez, second from right, talks to teens before they get into their cars to drive the slalom course during the BRAKES driving school held at zMAX Dragway in Concord.
BRAKES driving instructor Ricordo Rodriguez, second from right, talks to teens before they get into their cars to drive the slalom course during the BRAKES driving school held at zMAX Dragway in Concord. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

5 tips for teen drivers

1. Wear your seat belt. Nothing keeps you safer. Other than a well-trained driver, it is the most important safety feature inside any car.

2. When driving, keep your hands at a “9 and 3” position on a clock rather than the “10 and 2” position your parents were taught. If the airbag deploys, you are much less likely to break your arms.

3. Adjust your side-view mirrors outward so that you don’t see the side of your own vehicle. This can practically eliminate the “blind spot.”

4. Don’t over-correct. No one says you have to get back on the road as fast as you ran off it.

5. Pay full attention when you are driving and look way ahead. A car can be a weapon. Texting must wait. Your phone should be well out of view so you are not tempted to take a quick glance.

5 tips for parents of teen drivers

1. Once your teenager starts driving, make them drive you everywhere when the two of you are the only ones in the car. “Parents, consider your own license revoked,” says Col. Bill Grey, head of the N.C. Highway Patrol. “There is no substitute for experience and for having someone guide you through a tough situation.”

2. Even after your teenager gets a license, your coaching job is not done. Ride with them as frequently as possible.

3. Print out a driving contract (many exist on the Internet) and have you and your teen sign it to ensure everyone is clear on the house’s driving rules.

4. The safest way to start a new driver out is to have them share the family car, which is usually newer and has more safety features. If you do feel like you must buy your teenager a car, spend as much on safety as you can possibly afford.

5. Model good behavior: Always wear your own seat belt. Never text while driving.

For more information

To sign up your teen for a free four-hour BRAKES class or for more information on Doug Herbert’s program, go to PutOnTheBrakes.org. Classes are usually offered about once a month in the Charlotte area and require a parent or guardian to attend along with the teenager. There is frequently a waiting list. A deposit of $99 is required to hold a spot but is refundable after the class concludes.

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