Did your family welcome a new driver into the fold this summer?  Summer months, specifically the period between Memorial and Labor Days, are historically the most dangerous for teen drivers, with the highest percentage of motor vehicle collisions. The roads are busy with vacationers, college students home from school and teens as they travel between summer jobs and social activities.  As summer comes to a close, and young adults head back to college, we wanted to offer some automotive tips to keep newer drivers, and everyone else, safe on the road.

For parents of teen drivers, we offer a few tips that aren’t vehicle specific. Take advantage when you see cheaper GPS prices, and buy one for your teen’s car so they won’t need to use their smartphones for directions. Or, if they’re going to use their smartphones, ensure they’ve downloaded an app that gives directions verbally and does not require the driver to look at their phone/map. If your children want to head to a summer concert or beach, offer to drive with them before to practice the route. Planning the trip in advance, having directions or knowing your route will ensure the main focus is on driving. While it might not make perfect, practice builds experience and skills that teen drivers desperately need.

Remember to allow extra time to get to work or meet up with friends. There are more people on the road and speeding is still the number one cause of accidents, and was found to be a factor in more than 30% of all fatal crashes.  Getting there late is better than not getting there at all.  

Even though it sounds obvious, save calls and texts for after arriving safely at your destination – nothing is that important, and if it is, pull over. Eating, putting on makeup and searching for music all add to the horrific statistics for casualties and injuries.  

Preparing the vehicle itself is a good lesson learned, as rising temperatures can be tough on a vehicle, so keep the car’s owner manual close by. Keep the list for colder months, as many still apply.

Test the vehicle’s battery. Hot weather can strain batteries, so if the vehicle’s battery is more than three years old, test it at a certified vehicle repair shop. Also, get an oil change. This is an area to never put off on the list of things to do.  Ensure that your tires are in good condition as this is critical to the safety of your vehicle; hundreds of fatalities may be due to tire failures annually. Not sure about your tires? Bring your vehicle in for an inspection. 

Monitor fluid levels. Too little engine coolant/antifreeze can lead to overheating. Replenish brake, power steering and windshield washer fluid while you’re at it. 

Make mom proud and keep a basic roadside emergency kit in your car. This should include roadside flares (1-2), jumper cables, a flashlight with fresh batteries, paper towels, extra washer fluid, antifreeze and a small first aid kit. Safe driving leads to more time to enjoy the freedom that comes from driving your vehicle.  We have an obligation to look out for one another on the road, so remember to do your part!  

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