Rule The Road: Basic “Stay Safe” Driving Rules For Teens

When it comes to driving, you can't be too concerned about safety. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens, and many teens, even though they hear the safety tips in driving lessons and from parents, disregard basic advice that would keep them safe on the road. If you only recently got your driving permit, increase your safety by following these basic driving tips.

1. Don't drive distracted. 

When you hear "distracted driving," you probably think of texting. Texting and driving has gotten a lot of attention from national ad campaigns, and while you should never text and drive, texting only causes a fraction of distracted driving accidents. Some teens feel like as long as they are not texting, they aren't distracted. However, some of these behaviors are just as dangerous as texting behind the wheel:

Putting on make-up. Don't do it. Teens often see mothers, sisters, and friends drive and apply lipstick simultaneously, but it is not safe. Some experts estimate that about half of all woman do their make-up in the car. Make the resolve to keep yourself and other drivers safe. If you have to wear make-up and are running late, do it in the bathroom during a school break.

Eating and drinking. Teens are notorious for skipping breakfast and picking up fast food with friends on the way to events and after-school activities. Have a water bottle in your cup holder with an easy-access spout, (no screw-on lids), and refrain from opening soda cans or drinking hot coffee when driving. An accident with liquids will take your eyes off the road long enough to cause an accident.

Kissing or other PDA. If you're driving, consider yourself married to the road until you reach your destination. If you have friends who try to distract you with touching or kissing, even as a joke, let them know that you don't consider driving to be a joke. 

2. Follow the curfew rules of your permit.

Permit riles vary by state, but many states have restrictions on when you can be out at night and even how many people can be with you in the vehicle. Driving at night is more challenging, especially when you get tired. Your judgement can be delayed, and sometimes teens don't have the experience to recognize when they are too exhausted to operate the car. Tiredness and an increase in silliness means that friends become increasingly distracting as the night gets later. Animals like deer and raccoons are also more active at night.

3. Don't let your pride compromise your safety.

Your car can be a source of fun for you and your friends, but sometimes, it's possible to take the fun too far. Avoid the antics of racing at streetlights against your friends, spinning donuts in the parking lot, or participating in speeding with other vehicles on the freeway. Don't be swayed by the pleas of friends or even family members who try to convince you that there is no harm in participating. Peer pressure and the exhilaration of the moment can get your swept up into unsafe behavior that can result in damage to your car, public or private property, and injury to yourself and others. A good motto to keep in mind is to worry about your own self -- make the safety of those in your car your only priority as a driver. 

For more information on becoming a responsible first-time driver, contact a local driving school. With the right practice behind the wheel and mindfulness of the responsibilities that come with a driving permit, you can become an expert in no time, reaping the benefits of a clean driving record. For more information on practicing driving skills, check out a site like