Teens and their parents need more information and better tools if we want teens to be safer and smarter drivers.
My daughter just completed her online driver’s ed course, passed the DMV knowledge exam, and obtained her learner’s permit. She knows her traffic laws, recognizes that distracted driving and driving under the influence are deadly, and understands the basics of defensive driving. This is a good foundation. But has she fully learned what is required to be a safe and smart driver? I don’t think so.
- Last year, more than 294,000 teen drivers were involved in automobile accidents. 2,400 of those teens were killed. These are sobering and heartbreaking teen driving statistics.
- At a time when college is increasingly unaffordable, it is shocking how much money is wasted on gas and vehicle maintenance – money that could instead be set-aside for college costs.
- Our teens care deeply about the environment, yet we don’t teach them how to drive in a more environmentally-responsible manner (which will also save them money on gas).
If we want our teens to be safer and smarter on the road, we need to give them more information and better tools to help them become better drivers. And we need to monitor their progress.
Here is a partial list of what we should be teaching our teens, and helping them do, if we want to them to become better drivers:
Underinflated tires reduce gas mileage. This wastes money. They also wear faster. This too wastes money. Underinflated tires are also a serious safety hazard. They cause hundreds of accidents every year, many of which are fatal.
In addition to carbon dioxide, vehicles emit several pollutants that have been linked to a variety of respiratory illnesses. In heavy traffic, pollution levels are substantially above normal on the roads and inside your car. To reduce your exposure, you need to recirculate your air when you are stuck in traffic (this is true even if you have a HEPA Cabin Air Filter in your car).
Be extra careful when driving to and from school.
Traffic can be highly problematic for other reasons as well. If your teen drives to and from school, there is a very good chance he or she is driving during the two most dangerous times to be on the road each day. It’s absolutely critical that teens are awake, focused, and not in a rush when they leave for school. The same is true when heading home after a long school day.
As our cars age, our headlights become yellow and foggy. This is not just an aesthetic problem. It’s a serious safety issue when driving at night. Unrestored headlights lose brightness and distance, making it much harder to see hazards. Many teens drive older cars (for many good reasons). But if they do, they should restore the headlights, which is simple and inexpensive.
Save money and cut your carbon footprint by increasing your fuel economy.
We all have bad habits that rob us of gas mileage, and chances are your teen driver does too. We idle unnecessarily waiting to pick someone up. We drive well above the speed limit on the highway, even when it will save us less than one minute of time on our trip. We have too much junk in our trunk. We accelerate hard, only to brake just as hard seconds later. All of these little bad habits add up to huge decreases in MPG. Many drivers could increase their fuel economy by 10% with small changes in behavior. This would save an average driver $150/year on gas and reduce his or her carbon dioxide emissions by 950 lbs.
Premium (high octane) gas is pointless unless it is required or recommended for your car. Even if it is recommended, it may be unnecessary given the type of driving you are doing. Given the extra cost associated with higher octane gas, you should only pay for it if you actually need it. The same is true when deciding whether to pay for “top-tier” gas – gas with additives designed to reduce engine wear and tear (which has nothing to do with octane ratings).
Waterless car wash is a bio-degradable, enzyme-based spray that you apply to your car and wipe off. If it includes a natural wax compound, you then lightly buff. It is the fastest, most environmentally-friendly, and least expensive way to keep your car looking great.
Like adults, teens have a lot to keep track of every day. It can be a challenge to remember all the keys to safe and smart driving. Recognizing this reality, we designed the Driving2Save App to help drivers be safer, healthier, and more responsible. With pre-drive prompts, driving alerts, and post-drive reports, the App provides drivers with the information they need to save lives, money, time, and the planet every time they get behind the wheel. It is perfect for teen drivers – it keeps them focused and safe on the roads. And it is perfect for the parents of teen drivers – it provides them with report after each drive by their teen that grades a variety of health and safety driving behaviors. For more information on the App, please check out our Indiegogo Campaign.
This is just a partial list of the information we should be providing to teens as they begin driving. For a more comprehensive list, please review our Driving Tips. We can and must help teens be safer and smarter on the road. Thanks for helping your teen driver start Driving2Save.