As a new school year shifts into gear here in Tampa Bay, many sophomores will be picking up the keys for the first time as they complete Driver’s Ed. and prepare to take their licensure exam. We understand that it’s an exciting time, and likely one they’ve waited for since they were small, but do most teens really understand the serious responsibility of operating a vehicle? Based on statistics, the answer would be no.

Unfortunately, the leading cause of death among teenagers is being in a vehicle accident, and most of those could be prevented by following the most basic driving rules. We think this is a great time for parents to sit down with their new drivers and discuss the basics, and why following the rules is so important when you climb behind the wheel. Our top 5 tips for new drivers are:

Obey ALL the Traffic Rules (Especially the Speed Limit!)

Your driving student might know they should stop at a red light, but do they know when they are/aren’t allowed to turn right on red? He or she might understand the speed limit, but does that change in certain zones or at certain times of the day? These are details your young driver probably isn’t familiar with, but are very important when they’re actually behind the wheel and expected to perform well in real-life traffic. In addition to understanding the proper times to stop, when and where they can park, and how they should NEVER use their phone while driving, perhaps the most important driving rule of all is the speed limit. Speeding as much as triples the chances of getting into an accident according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Not only is one more likely to get into an accident, but there’s a higher chance that accident will result in serious injury and extensive damages if the vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed. Following the rules, including the speed limit, is key to protecting oneself and others while behind the wheel.

Leave the Tailgating for Game Day

New drivers (and even some experienced drivers!) are notorious for tailgating. Tailgating, or following closely behind another vehicle, shortens a car’s braking distance and increases the likelihood of a rear-end collision. Even if the other driver forgets to use a turn signal, stops suddenly, or makes a poor driving choice, if your teen is tailgating, they will usually be held liable for the accident. The goal is to leave enough distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them to allow for sudden turns or stops without them having to slam on the brakes.

Check the Weather!

Your teen doesn’t just need to keep an eye on the weather for their daily wardrobe. Knowing the forecast for the day’s weather helps them prepare for the driving conditions as well. If a driver knows it’s going to be stormy and/or raining on a given day, they’ll need to allow for extra time to reach their destination. If it’s going to be hot and sunny, they better remember their sunglasses for safer driving! The weather plays a big part in safety on the roads, and your teen needs to be aware so they can prepare.

Buckle Up

This is likely a rule your teen has known since they were small, but it’s always worth repeating. Seat belt usage saves lives every single day, throughout the Tampa Bay area and across the US as a whole. Reminding your teen to buckle up, and having them remind their friends when they get into the car, is a huge part of being a responsible driver. By buckling up, they’re avoiding a ticket, protecting themselves, and protecting others both inside and outside their vehicle.

Brooks Law Group wishes all new drivers the best of luck as they take their driving courses, prepare for their exam, and practice with their new permit or license. We know that once on the road, accidents are a fact of life, and when they happen, we encourage you to look to Brooks! We serve the greater Central Florida area with compassionate and professional legal representation, helping victims get the compensation they need and deserve. Call us to discuss your case with a FREE consultation.

Steve was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As was the practice for new doctors his father worked day and night during his medical residency at Charity Hospital there. Steve comes from a long line of doctors. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, even two uncles were all specialists and/or surgeons in their chosen medical specialties, including internal medicine specialist, obstetrics / gynecology, neurosurgery and general practice / surgery. His great-great grandfather was the Surgeon General of Ohio during the Civil War.