Teen Driving: What to Know, What to Watch Out for, and What Resources to Have

Teen Driver

As a teen driving, learning to drive and taking on the added responsibility of a vehicle can be quite the process to integrate into your daily routine. Luckily though, in moving through this rite of passage, there is also the achievement of gaining access to a new level of freedom – that’s access to new adventures, greater availability for work, school, and activities, helping your folks around town by running errands, and also alleviating the mass scheduling of rides needed that would originally tie up family and friends.

The most important detail in it all? Doing it safely and with the correct layers of protection and awareness. 

Being a teenage driver means becoming familiar with a new set of guidelines that make interacting with your vehicle – and the other vehicles on the road-  easier and safer. Here’s a few basic tips on how to do that.

Teen Driving: Learn Your Car

Before you can even get out on the road, you must first get in the car you’ll be driving. Whether its an older vehicle, or a new one with new technology; a manual “stick shift” or an automatic; a sedan, a hatchback, a truck or a minivan- you have to become familiar with the very machine itself to know how to drive it safely. 

There are some features that are essential to know what and where they are and how to turn them on. This can be as simple as where the toggle for the windshield wiper is or how to turn your hazards on and off. 

You should also become acquainted with the blind spots on your car that make it difficult to see cars coming up to pass as you might want to move into their lane. Some newer vehicles feature blind spot sensors that will beep and notify you; older cars require just a bit more familiarity with where the blind spots are in general. 

You can also stock your car with the right pouch of tools and resources to supplement the car’s functionality. Some maintenance and emergency pouch contents include:

  • – Traffic triangles 
  • – Tire gauge
  • – Tire Iron and Jack  
  • – Jumper Cables 
  • – First Aid Kit 
  • – Basic tools 

Knowing your car and how it can function safely in all situations is key to becoming a safe driver. Not being distracted by not knowing what the car is doing and why allows more attention to be given to the road, and the other vehicles on it. 

Teen Driving: Learn How to Drive

This may seem a bit too obvious and pretty straight forward, but it is one of the first steps for a reason. 

When out on the road driving, you’re not the only one out there. Filled with other motorists, roads are laid out and flow by means of a set of functional rules. The craft behind these traffic laws allow for motorists to get from their many different Point A’s safely and efficiently to their diverse Point B’s. This operational structure works as everyone moves within the same understanding of how it all runs together; without the collective awareness, disruptions will slow transit and create hasty, dangerous situations. 

Just think, who goes first at a 4 way stop? Who goes next?

What traffic light indicator allows you to make a left hand turn, cutting through lanes of oncoming traffic safely? 

How far should you stay back behind a school bus?

How do you respond as emergency vehicles are coming up behind you, making their way through traffic to reach their needed destination?

To develop and integrate driving skills, consider enrolling in a driver’s education class. These classes are helpful in introducing new and experienced drivers to the backbone of motorist interactions with each other and with the roads themselves. They also are supplemented with unique information that you might originally have to learn the hard way if you hadn’t gotten time in class and behind the wheel with an informative instructor. 

You can find driver’s educations classes through your state’s Department of Transportation webpage. The Oregon Department of Transportation facilitates more than just links, but options, explanations and an accredited course they teamed up with specifically. Find out what is being in your state. 

Teen Driving: Learn What to Watch Out for & Your System for Asking for Help 

No matter how familiar you are with your car and the road laws you are abiding by, sometimes something still happens. It may be road conditions, a change in traffic patterns following roadwork, deer or wildlife in the road or even an unnoticed vehicle defect. Occurrences like these can get the heart racing, but your added awareness can help abate unfortunate disruptors like these entering your driving experience. 

In these situations, there are simple things to be cognizant of like the weather conditions from the night before- did it rain? Did the temperature hit freezing levels creating the potential of black ice patches? How heavy is it raining now and are minor washouts something that may need to adjust your route so you aren’t stuck in the midst of it? 

What time of day are you driving? Are you aware of the habits of your local wildlife at different times of day and night? Most deer collisions happen at dawn or at dusk, and these accidents can add up in damage to your vehicle. 

How is your car running? Did you notice white smoke puff out of your tailpipe, potentially indicating a cracked radiator and coolant in your head gasket? This sort of operational break will render the car undrivable, leaving you in a position to be stuck, waiting for a tow where you are. Does one of your tires have a slow leak or is balding? How is the vehicle driving as a whole? 

Knowing, not only what to look for, but who to call if and when something does happen, can alleviate some of the stressors around these happenings. 

  • – Ensure your insurance policy has roadside assistance. If not, have a tow truck number saved in your phone 
  • – Always communicate your schedule with your parents or who you are meeting up with. If you are broken down for some reason and have yet to arrive where you are supposed to be, then there are those that are made aware of your absence and can begin engaging with their own resources to help as well. 
  • – If you need to pull over, make sure you are pulled over on the right side of the road, aiming for a flat surface away from moving traffic. 
  • – Turn your hazards on so other drivers can see you and give space as they drive by (there are actually some states where this is a law)

But, What Else?

The above happenings are, generally speaking, tame in where they come from. Weather happens. Wildlife moves around. Your car is used and thus can need some added attention. 

There are other dangers to become hyper aware of

Some of the top human behavior related causes of auto accidents include speeding, running red lights or stops signs, and drunk driving. All of these are clear in their connection of cause and effect- engaging in dangerous behaviors while driving will result in dangerous outcomes

Alongside these behaviors though, there is the more ambiguous realm of distracted driving- a classification of certain actions that more people engage in while driving than you’d think. 

Do you eat while you drive? 

Do you try to put on your make up while driving, trying to save time by doing it on the road?

Do you take pictures while behind the wheel? 

These actions may all sound passable in words, but what about seeing the statistics that are alarming enough to be compared to DUI driving behaviors?

In a study of driving behaviors, the Zebra gathered the following statistics, 

  • – 52.5% of drivers are eating while driving.
  • – 11.7% of drivers are taking pictures. 
  • – 6.5% of drivers apply makeup. 

In that same study, 23.6% admitted to texting while driving, while only 3.4% admitted to drinking alcohol while driving. 

The increase in what is seen as a passable activity while driving is also pushing other statistics up. Distracted driving accounted for 27% of all crashes in 2015, and in 2020, distracted driving was a reported factor in 8.1% of fatal motor vehicle crashes. 

In Oregon, as well as in other states, there have been hard lines drawn of what is considered distracted driving and what may come of it when you are pulled over because of it. A citation for violating Oregon’s distracted driving law can result in fines that can reach as high as $6,000 or more and jail time for multiple offenses.

These actions can cause accidents and unravel an intense process of being held accountable, yet there are still so many drivers that engage in distracted driving habits. If you are ticketed, or cause an accident, your insurance will also be slammed, creating an added consequence to the other results of such poor driving decision making skills. In this case, teen drivers could then be moved to their own policy and pay for those actions for years down the line. 

Teen texting and driving

So What Should You Do? 

Besides learning your vehicle, the road laws, and what to be made aware of (behaviors included), become familiar with the insurance that wraps and protects you and your vehicle. Adding teen drivers to insurance policies can feel like a process, but so is learning how to drive for the teens themselves. There are still some pieces of information to ensure safer driving as it is backed up in your insurance policy. 

Added features that can help both guide the driver and also benefit in discounts include good student discounts and safety features on the vehicle (like back up cameras, blind spot indicators, and obstacle detection). You can also employ telematics monitoring to assist in watching the progression of a learning driver. 

 You can also always reach out to us, find out what discounts you qualify for and get all your questions answered.

We are here to help ensure all drivers on the roads are informed, safe, and covered.


Telia Fogle