Avoid these common teen-driving errors

Driver error made by teenagerYou have your license, you have great eyesight, and you have great reflexes. You have all the tools to drive safely.
   Whether or not you have the skill – which comes only from experience – is less certain.
   The National Academy of Sciences addressed this in a 2007 report, and its findings remain relevant today. The NAS report on the causes of young-driver crashes noted a difference between the physical skills needed to drive and the more-complex judgment skills needed for safe driving – skills like recognizing and correcting for errors and detecting hazards on the roadway. Those take longer to acquire than the simple mechanics of operating a car.
   NAS reported the common errors teenage drivers make, and raising your awareness here can help you avoid them. They include failure to:

  • maintain attention and avoid distractions, including electronic devices
  • search ahead, such as before left turns
  • search to the side, like when changing lanes
  • adjust speed for traffic or road conditions
  • maintain proper space between other cars (tailgating, for example)
  • recover from a skid or sudden swerve
  • maintain basic control, such as staying within your lane, braking, and turning smoothly
  • follow traffic controls, like traffic lights
  • avoid driving while impaired by alcohol or sleep deprivation.

   Something of local interest to note: the Washington Traffic Safety Commission looked at young drivers’ fatal crashes over a five-year period, and the time of day in which they occur might surprise you. Many people might correctly guess the worst time slot, which is midnight to 2 a.m. with 20.5% of fatalities. But the second deadliest time? Not late evening, not early evening, but 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., with 18.3% of fatalities.
   So be careful as you drive home from school, or to and from sports practice, or to an after-school job. Even in broad daylight, late afternoon can be a dangerous time for teen drivers.

by  Jon Osterberg

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