Teen Long-Distance Driving Tips for First-Time Road Trips

Teen Long-Distance Driving Tips for First-Time Road Trips

by / Monday, 19 July 2021 / Published in Motor Vehicle Accidents, Tips
A group of teen girls in a car during a road trip.

For many teens in the state of Michigan, one exciting thing to look forward to is taking steps toward becoming a licensed driver. With school out for the summer, teens have more time to attend driver’s education classes and to work on completing all those hours of supervised driving required by Michigan’s graduated licensing system. Or, for teens who have already earned their Level 3 license, they may be eager to spend their extra free time enjoying the freedom of being able to drive without the restrictions of a Level 1 or Level 2 license. 

Whether a teen has just gotten their Level 1 license or has an unrestricted Level 3 license, one thing they might have planned for their summer vacation is a road trip. Very often, parents of teens who recently earned their Level 1 license specifically plan road trips as an opportunity to work on those supervised driving hours and to gain experience driving in many different types of situations. But for teens with unrestricted licenses, a summer road trip could be their first time taking a road trip without their parents. 

As exciting as these road trips can be, don’t forget that sixteen and seventeen year olds are the age group with the highest crash rates and that crash rates peak within the first six months of driving without supervision after licensure. So if your teen is getting ready for a road trip this summer, whether you’ll be with them or not, be sure to talk to them about what they need to do to stay safe on the road. 

Prepare the Vehicle

Even the best drivers can be caught off guard by car problems, so it’s a very good idea to start things off by having the car checked before hitting the road. Bring it to a mechanic for a tune up to make sure it’s in good working order with things like engine fluids topped off, worn wiper blades replaced, and the tires checked. 

In addition to making sure the car is mechanically ready for the trip, don’t forget to make sure it’s equipped with an emergency kit just in case, including things like jumper cables, a flashlight, batteries, and a first aid kit. 

Preventing Drowsy Driving 

Very often, even experienced drivers push themselves harder than they should when it comes to how long they drive during a road trip. They might be eager to reach a destination at a certain time or be tired as a result of waking up early or a busy day of activity. Or a new driver might just be having fun behind the wheel. But it doesn’t matter if you make great time reaching your destination if it means you’ll get into a car crash as a result of drowsy driving, so be sure to take breaks to get some rest. Sometimes, having an extra cup of coffee just doesn’t cut it. Not only does drowsy driving make it more likely a person will fall asleep behind the wheel, it can slow down reaction time and impair judgement. Many experts compare the effects of drowsy driving to the effects of driving while under the influence of alcohol. 

Avoiding Distractions

One of the most common causes of car accidents involving teens is distracted driving so don’t forget to remind your teen that distracted driving can be much more than just using a cell phone behind the wheel. It can also include things like talking to passengers, reaching for something in the car, or simple daydreaming. If it takes a person’s hands off the wheel or their eyes or attention off the road, it’s distracted driving. 

If you’ll be traveling with your teen, you’ll be in a good position to keep their phone out of reach while they drive. In this situation, you can either keep their phone in a place like the glove compartment or simply set it on silent so that they won’t feel pressured to answer a call or reply to a message. You can also help with things like navigation and handing the driver their sunglasses if needed. If you won’t be traveling with your teen, make sure they know to take similar steps on their own with one of their passengers helping with things like directions instead. 

Other Important Steps

If the big road trips means going across state lines, review your auto insurance policy to make sure your teen will be covered if they get into an accident in another state. Car crashes are bad enough to deal with, the last thing you want is to find out you don’t have the insurance coverage you thought you had. 

If you won’t be traveling with your teen, ask them to provide you with a copy of their planned route so that you’ll know where exactly they’re heading and where they’re planning to stop along the way. Also, be sure to ask them to check in often so that they know everyone is still safe. 

It’s also not a bad idea to suggest your teen take road maps or a printed-out copy of their directions. As archaic as these things seem, GPS signals can be unreliable in many areas, particularly in more remote locations, so it’s good to have something more analog to fall back on just in case they aren’t able to rely on their digital directions. 

Get Help from a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer

Car accidents can easily happen to anyone, even good drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a car accident lawyer. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a lawyer highly experienced in helping the victims of car accident victims in the state of Michigan. Contact us today for help with your case.

Image: iStock / SolisImages