School is almost out! And with that, teens are taking advantage of the break from studies to take their Drug and Alcohol course and permit exam. It is a great time to get started on driving practice. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the extra time off and summer sunshine to practice new driving skills. However, summer isn’t quite as carefree as it seems. There are more fatal accidents during the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day than any other time of the year. All drivers, especially new drivers, should take extra care to drive defensively this summer.
If you are a parent, consider setting important driving guidelines for your teens. To set expectations, you and your teen can sign a parent/teen agreement to lay out any consequences for violating rules. This sample agreement and other helpful parent resources are available on our website.
If your teen is planning to practice behind the wheel this summer, help them to focus on basic driving techniques and good driving habits:
- Buckle up for safety.
- Practice driving in different weather conditions, and times of day: sunny and rainy driving conditions as well as some practice driving after dark. For more tips on driving in wet weather, check out our blog post Spring Has Sprung – Drive Safe in those April Showers.
- Hazard recognition is important. Keep your eyes on the road and practice scanning ahead to prepare for upcoming hazards such as animals crossing the road, potholes, construction zones and more.
And remember, teens often look to their parents or guardians for examples and will pick up on any of your own bad driving habits. Set a good example by turning off or silencing the ringer on your phone, keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, and maintaining a safe speed and following distance. Practice makes perfect!
Teens have returned to school, and Fall is right around the corner. As the days get shorter, it’s a great opportunity for new drivers to reflect on the dangers and challenges of driving at night, and practice their defensive driving techniques after dusk.
Night time driving accounts for about 25% of all driving, and there is usually significantly less traffic during these hours, but approximately 55% of all driving fatalities occur after dark. Night driving presents additional challenges due to reduced visibility, driver fatigue, and even a higher number of intoxicated drivers on the road:
- Traffic death rates are three times greater at night than during the day.
- The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was four times higher at night than during the day (NHTSA).
- Nearly 3 out of 4 pedestrian deaths occur during the nighttime (70%), and many involve alcohol (NHTSA).
Florida officials recognize that new drivers need to practice night driving after mastering defensive driving basics. In Florida, if you hold a Learner’s License, you may only drive during daylight hours during the first three months, and until 10 p.m. thereafter, always with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and occupies the front passenger seat. To earn your Intermediate License (operator’s license) at 16 years old, a parent or guardian must certify that you have at least 50 hours of behind the wheel driving experience, of which 10 hours must be at night. For more information on graduated driver licensing requirements in Florida, visit the Florida DHSMV website.
Now that you understand the risks, here are some safety tips for driving at night:
- Make sure all of the lights on your car are visible and working. Check to make sure that lights are working properly; make sure they aren’t caked with mud, snow or other debris that can make you less visible to other drivers on the road.
- Reduce your speed and following distance, just as you would in bad weather. It can be more difficult to judge distance or other vehicle speeds at night.
- If you are drowsy, do NOT drive at night. A drowsy driver may have slower reaction times, and falling asleep at the wheel can be deadly.
For even more tips on night driving, review these safety tips from Popular Mechanics. What other tips would you give new drivers for safe night driving?
It is spring break season for students across the state of Florida! Now is a great time to make the most of your break from school and finish up your online Drug & Alcohol course to get your learner’s permit. But, if you’re planning to get out in the warm sunshine and enjoy this time off with your friends instead, make sure you are making safe choices. With spring break parties and gatherings happening across the state, there will be extra opportunities to engage in risky behaviors like drinking and drug use. Don’t become a statistic!
GDL institute is a provider of Florida’s driver training course for teenage drivers, but we don’t only write about driving-related topics. The Drug and Alcohol course is required for all new drivers in Florida before they can obtain a learner’s permit. In addition to the aim of teaching safe driving skills, the course also teaches the effects of drug and alcohol use and abuse, coping mechanisms, and ways to say no. Whether you are behind the wheel of a car or ‘safe’ in your own home, using drugs and alcohol is a risky decision. In fact, by age 15, about 35% of teens have had at least 1 drink. Furthermore, each year almost 5,000 teens die as a result of underage drinking; including about 1,600 deaths from car crashes (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).
If you are already a licensed or permitted driver, your responsibilities are even greater. Getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking can be deadly. Even “good” drivers sometimes make decisions that put them in potentially dangerous situations. Each year almost 5,000 teens die as a result of underage drinking; including about 1,600 deaths from car crashes (NIAAA). The decision to say no to teen drinking and drugs is critical.
To learn more about how drugs and alcohol can affect your body, your mind, and your driving ability, register for the online Drug and Alcohol course today. What you learn can help you to say no when the pressure is on. From everyone here at GDL Institute, we’re wishing you a wonderful spring break! Our staff is available via phone, e-mail and Live Chat six days a week to assist you wish any questions you have about the course.
- Underage Drinking Fact Sheet – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Getting a driver’s license is only the first step that teens will take toward driving independence. One of the most exciting events for a new driver is the first time they get to take their very own car out for a spin. Parents have an important decision on their hands if they are planning to buy a new or used car for their child… what’s the best, safest, and most cost effective choice for their teen?
Safety is at the top of the list for parents when thinking about car choices for their teens. The New York Times recently tackled this concept in their article, “How Much Car Do You Buy to Keep Your Teenager Safe?” As parents are left to consider just what safety features are the most likely to keep their teens focused and safe on the road, and as newer accident avoidance technologies such as lane departure sensors, backup cameras, and more become more common, parents have a lot to think about. Refer to the New York Times article for a list of used cars with accident avoidance technologies to consider.
Additionally, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers reviews and ratings for the best used cars for teens, with a focus on safety criteria, and priced under $20,000. These resources are intended to help parents make informed choices they can feel good about!
We here at GDL Institute believe a safe, reliable and affordable vehicle is the gold standard for a new driver, and will offer peace of mind for their parents. Additionally, new drivers should be taught defensive driving skills and have knowledge of all of the laws and road rules that will apply to them BEFORE they hit the road. Parents in Florida should make sure teens complete their mandatory Drug and Alcohol course and Learners Permit test with an approved online course provider. Choosing the best possible Drug & Alcohol course from GDL Institute puts new drivers in the best position for a safe driving.
What was YOUR first car as a teen driver?
How Much Car Do You Buy to Keep Your Teenager Safe? – New York Times
Choosing the Best Vehicle for Your Teen – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety