Although most young drivers are required to take some form of driver training before obtaining a driver’s license, accident rates among youth remain high. Before allowing new drivers to drive, it might be best to teach a few additional lessons:
1) Speeding is dangerous, no matter the cause. Speeding tickets are among the most common – and the most deadly – traffic violations on the road. A car that is speeding is more likely to lose control and cause serious damage in the event of an accident. In accidents involving speed, serious injuries — such as spinal cord injuries and head injuries – as well as fatalities are all too common. Many drivers insist on speeding because they are dealing with other cars going over the speed limit. However, it is important to resist the temptation to speed.
2) How to deal with emotions after an accident. Few driver training classes teach drivers to deal with emotions after an accident, but emotional decisions after an accident lead to serious legal problems. In many cases, for example, hit-and-run accidents are caused by a driver who hits someone, panics, lets their emotions get the better of them, and leaves the scene. An emotional response can cause drivers to make other mistakes, too – not exchanging driver information, for example, or admitting to fault even if the fault was not theirs. If you are in a car accident, it is important to take a deep breath, say little, offer help to anyone who needs it, alert authorities and exchange driver information. Gathering witness contact information and taking photos may be useful as well.
3) How to cope with road rage and aggressive driving on the road. Aggressive driving involves negligent driving and offenses such as reckless lane changes, speeding, following other cars closely and similar behavior. Road rage occurs when a driver loses control of their temper on the road. In some cases, road rage has led to intentional collisions as one driver rams into another car. In other cases, road rage leads to one driver leaving their vehicle to assault another driver. Both types of aggressive behaviors can lead to charges but can also be a danger on the road, leading to unsafe decisions that can lead to an accident.
4) Determining when to visit a mechanic. Unsafe cars do cause serious car accidents each year. Some seemingly minor car problems can cause mechanical failures on the road that can create unsafe conditions for other drivers as well. It is important for every driver to become familiar with their vehicle so that they can spot potential problems and get them fixed quickly.
5) Following the rules is as important as knowing them. While driver training teaches the rules of safe driving, actually getting licensed drivers to follow the rules of the road at all times is a more challenging task. In a driver training class, instructors watch over students, but once those students become licensed drivers and are unsupervised, the drivers must be motivated to drive safely.
6) Just because it is not illegal, that does not mean it is safe. Many states do not ban cell phone use in cars and other mobile devices, but studies have shown that use of mobile devices while driving can lead to more accidents. Similarly, many states do not have laws against multiple passengers, but research has suggested that multiple passengers and a new driver can lead to a higher risk of accidents. A good rule of thumb is to avoid all distractions in the car and any behaviors that seem risky.