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AAA: Going through driving scenarios helps make teens safer drivers

Posted On Tue, October 22, 2013

The last full week of October in the U.S. is Teen Driver Safety Week, as young people continue to be the most vulnerable population of individuals who are at an increased risk of being involved in an accident. This is why auto insurance rates provider AAA is encouraging parents to take advantage of this timeĀ period by helping their kidsĀ go over various scenarios that they're bound to experience throughout their driving career.

AAA recommended that parents go through five driving challenges with their teens: Driving in inclement weather, what to do when an animal is in the road, driving on back streets, the appropriate behavior when passengers are in the car and how to deal with other people using different means of transport, such as motorcycles or bicycles.

Sandra Maxwell, director of driver education programs for AAA, indicated that teens will likely go through these scenarios with their teacher, but parents play a key role in preparing them to be safe behind the wheel.

"Parental guidance is essential for the long-term success of any new driver," said Maxwell. "Because parents have the unique opportunity to sit in the passenger seat and coach their teen, they have the ability to ensure lifelong safe driving habits at the critical learning-to-drive stage."

Increase following distance in snow
With winter approaching, and forecasters predicting it could be an especially snowy season, this may be the scenario that young motorists have to deal with the most. AAA stressed that parents should advise their kids about the importance of reducing their rate of speed when there's snow, slush or ice on the roads, as it typically takes longer to come to a full and complete stop when applying the brakes. Thus, instead of maintaining a two-to-three second following distance, it should be increased to seven seconds. Additionally, it's recommended that motorists be sure to keep their eyes on what's ahead of them so they have plenty of time to react to other motorists.

Though probably not as common as treacherous roadways, wild animals frequently cross the road in the fall, as this is mating season. In fact, according to a recent poll conducted by State Farm, drivers have a 1 in 174 chance of striking a deer over the next 12 months, with the biggest risk coming in West Virginia.

AAA indicated that contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of injuries that occur from deer strikes are caused by going off the road, rather than colliding with animals. This is because out of instinct, motorists will often jerk the wheel to the left or right in order to avoid hitting deer or some other form of wildlife head-on. Parents should counsel their teen not to swerve when they see a deer in the road, but to keep both hands on the wheel, applying firm pressure to the brake pad. Hopefully, the animal will move before impact.

Rural roads require reduced speed
Though rural roads may be more scenic and less busy, they still present a safety hazard due to typically being very windy rather than straight. Teens may not effectively compensate for this fact by slowing their rate of speed down when approach hairpin turns in the road. AAA advised that moms and dads demonstrate how to slow down when approaching major turns in the road and when it's OK to accelerate. Parents should additionally make note of the fact that rural roads tend to not be as well-lit, so high beams should always be used, so long as no one is approaching from the other direction.

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