Avoid the distractions: Tips for being a better passenger
Last updated: January 1
While your teen may enjoy the freedom of getting a ride with a friend instead of relying on parents for transportation, it's important she understands that her behavior as a passenger may help contribute to a safer trip with a newly licensed driver. Today, many states place restrictions on nighttime driving by teens as well as the number and ages of passengers that can accompany a new driver. While restrictions like these have helped to reduce teen crashes by 10 to 30 percent in recent years, teenage drivers are still the highest crash risk, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says new drivers may be more susceptible to distractions while they're driving. And while something as simple as your teen getting a ride home from school with a friend may seem harmless, Teen Driver Source notes that even one passenger in the car doubles the accident risk for a teen driver.
So, what can passengers do to help ensure a safe ride? Make sure your teen remembers these driving safety tips the next time she catches a ride with a friend.
Pay Attention to the Road
Even though passengers don't actually have their hands on the wheel and foot on the gas, they have an extra set of eyes and ears that can sense problems. Autoblog says that passengers should do things like look around the car for obstructions or other vehicles (particularly when turning or backing up), get out of the way when the driver needs to see out the side window and be the navigator (or control the GPS) when going to a new place.
Don't add stress
While it's important to support safe driving habits and be alert for road hazards, passengers who point out everything the driver does wrong or make comments about how their friend is driving simply make the trip more stressful, according to Autoblog. Teen Driver Source suggests that passengers show the driver respect by wearing their seat belt, staying calm while riding and not pressuring the driver to go too fast.
Don't create distractions
It's important that all passengers are mindful of their actions. Passengers should respect that the driver is in charge and that driving is a responsibility, says the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Research Institute Center for Injury Research and Prevention. Rowdy behavior or turning the music volume up can be very distracting, especially to a newer driver. Handling electronics, such as a cell phone, the entertainment system or GPS, for the driver allows him to focus on the road. Keep the volume down on the radio and conversation, and remember that the driver sets the rules for what is and is not allowed in their car, says Teen Driver Resource.
While accidents can't always be prevented, teenage riders should do everything possible to be a good passenger. Teaching teens to be aware of the hazards associated with riding with their friends may help reduce distractions and ensure a safer ride.