Teen Driver Safety
Getting a driver's license is one of the most important milestones in a person's life. It means freedom, independence, adventure and responsibility. Becoming a safe and responsible driver is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your family and other motorists on the road with you.
Teen Driver Safety Tips
Safe, responsible driving all begins with you:
- Buckle up! Make sure you always wear your seat belt and that everyone else in the vehicle is buckled up. This is your best defense against anything that might happen on the road.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Teens need more sleep than younger children and adults. Teens need at least nine hours of sleep every night, but most teens are sleep deprived and get less than seven hours of sleep each night. With school, homework, jobs, sports and social activities, sleeping for nine hours can be a challenge, but sleep allows you to stay alert while driving.
- If you are a teen with a motorcycle, make sure you take motorcycle safety training and always wear your safety gear. Motorcycle helmets are required on Virginia roadways and are necessary to protect your head.
- Alcohol use by people under the age of 21 is prohibited in Virginia. Virginia has a "zero tolerance" law regarding teens and alcohol use. Some of the penalties include losing your license, large fines and maybe jail time. The legal limit for teens is a .02 blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is the normal alcohol content of the average person. So, even a small amount of alcohol can be too much.
- Single vehicle crashes are the most common type of crash involving teens. Speed, lack of seat belt use, inexperience and alcohol use are contributing factors to fatalities and serious injuries in these crashes.
- Parents and caregivers have a big role in teen driver safety right from the beginning. Take your teen out to practice their skills, set clear ground rules and stick to them, and most importantly, be a good role model. Always buckle up, obey speed limits, and don't drive aggressively.
- Drive sober. Alcohol and drugs are illegal, slow your reaction-time, and distort reality. At the same time, they may make you think you're an awesome driver. Avoid this bad combination. Don't drink and drive.
- Ride with sober drivers. If you're riding with a driver who has been drinking or doing drugs, you're also in danger because 48 percent of teenagers who die in car crashes are passengers.
- Always use your safety belt. These are the facts: air bags are made to work with safety belts, and most crashes happen close to home. So buckle up for every trip.
- Always drive with your headlights on. See and be seen.
- Don't tailgate. Try to keep four seconds of following distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you.
- Focus on your driving. Don't blast the music, talk on the phone, eat, study, or put on makeup while driving.
- NEVER read, write or send text messages, or use any other device (like a gps) while driving. Anything that takes you off the task of driving is dangerous!
- Don't load up your car with too many friends. Focus on your driving, and resist distractions and peer pressure.
- Don't get stressed out. Pretend everyone else on the road is a close, personal friend.
- Check the rearview mirror before and after you brake, every time.
- Follow traffic safety rules and don't drive faster than the speed limit. Watch your speed!
- Never let friends drive your car. If your friends drive your car and crash, you could lose money, car privileges, a friendship, and even your life.
Teen Driver Safety Resources
- Additional Resources
- Related Links
- Traffic Crash Data
- Virginia Highway Safety Office Contacts