Be a Smart Teen Driver
- Use Seat Belts: Every Trip, Every Occupant, Every Time
- Follow the rules: Just because you passed driver’s education and got your license, doesn’t mean you’ve developed good habits. By practicing and observing driving laws, you will have a big impact on how well you drive for the rest of your life.
- Be in charge: In your car, you set the rules of conduct for yourself and your passengers. No alcohol or drugs. No speeding or stunts that you saw at the movies. Set the rules and stick to them. Your safety is not negotiable.
- Don’t give-in to peer pressure: Sure, it’s cool that you can drive but use your head too. Friends will try to tell you what to do from letting them drink to racing to all kinds of silly behavior. Blame your parents or take charge…driving is a responsibility and a privilege that can be taken away.
- Stay alert: Distractions are the No. 1 cause of teen car accidents, ahead of speeding and other causes. Its great to have a cell phone along in case you are running late, get into an accident or other situation that you need help but don’t talk on the phone while driving. Also, don’t let your friends start blasting the stereo or yell. Loud noises can also distract you from the road.
Once you’ve invested all the time getting a California driver’s license, you’ll want to do your very best to retain it. During your tenure as a California driver, you may make a mistake and be cited for a traffic violation.
When a police officer signals you to pull over, do so at the next safe spot on the shoulder or roadside. The officer will approach your vehicle and ask for your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.
Depending on the reason for the stop, in most cases the officer will write you a traffic ticket and ask you to sign it before he gives you your copy. By signing, you are not admitting guilt; you are simply agreeing to appear in court. The appearance date is noted on the front of the ticket.
Infractions vs. Misdemeanors
An infraction is the breaking of a law. If an officer witnesses you fail to stop at a stop sign, drive above the speed limit, or make an illegal U-turn, for example, you will be given a ticket with a notice to appear in court or pay a fine.
Misdemeanors are more serious crimes such as driving without a license, drag racing, DUI, and reckless driving. If you are ticketed for a misdemeanor, you will be required to appear in court and you could go to jail. If you face a misdemeanor then you should probably hire a lawyer to help advise you.
After Getting a Ticket
If you do get a citation, you’ll want to clear it up as soon as possible. California may allow you to sign up for traffic school to reduce points against your driver’s license. You will get more information from the county court where you received your citation.
Tickets can cause your license to be revoked and your insurance costs to increase. Driving safely and developing good habits is the best defense against racking up tickets.
Car crashes are serious events. If you do find yourself in a crash its important to stay calm, move safely off the road, and get the facts.
To get more information (pdf) about what to do during a crash, please refer to the National Safety Council site by clicking here.
Myths vs. Facts
Myth 1: It is safer to drive during the night when there is less traffic.
Fact: More teen drivers die in car crashes between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. than any other time of day.
Recommendation: Parents should restrict late night driving and opt to act as chauffeur. Better to pick your teen up at a dance than at the hospital or morgue.
Myth 2: Teens are safer with more passengers in the car to help watch traffic.
Fact: The more teen passengers in the car the greater the likelihood of a crash. Teens tend to turn up the music and carry on more boisterously with other teens in the car, causing serious driver distraction.
Recommendation: Parents should limit the number of teen passengers allowed to travel in the vehicle with a teen driver and the number of passengers must never exceed the number of working seat belts.
Myth 3: Alcohol is the leading cause of teen driver-related car crashes.
Fact: Distractions and speeding are the leading cause of teen driver car crashes.
Recommendation: Parents should caution their teens against speeding, and while teens like to see how fast they can go, parents should make sure the brakes are in good mechanical order.
Myth 4: As long as the driver doesn’t have alcohol, it doesn’t matter who has an open container in a car.
Fact: Any open alcohol container in the vehicle is illegal.
Recommendation: Parents should review drinking and driving rules thoroughly with their teen.
Myth 5: As long as you use a hands-free device for cell phones, you’re safe.
Fact: The National Safety Council found that those engaged in cell phone conversations missed twice as many simulated traffic signals and took longer to react. Researchers believe that hands- free cell phones may cause a greater risk by encouraging people to spend more time talking.
Recommendation: Parents should make a rule that the use of cell phones while driving is prohibited.