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Defensive Driving Tips for New Drivers

safety tips defensive drivers

Something all drivers must learn, but especially new ones, is that simply following the rules of the road is not always guaranteed to keep you safe. While knowing traffic laws is key to passing your driver’s education course and driver’s test, once you’re on your own on the road, some of your safety is at the mercy of the other drivers sharing it with you.

This is why some states, such as Kentucky, offer courses in defensive driving.  Defensive driving refers to the practice of driving with strategies meant to minimize hazardous events on the road, training you to recognize and react to dangers in efficient, predictable ways.

The National Safety Council first began offering courses in defensive driving in 1964, and many companies, especially commercial trucking and ride shares, will now require employees to take them. In Kentucky, drivers can register for instruction with Kentucky Safe Drivers, which offers a variety of instruction options.

Teen Driving Dangers

While everyone can benefit from defensive driving techniques, teen drivers are especially encouraged to learn them. Not only are teen drivers newer to the responsibilities of driving and therefore less-experienced, but they also statistically face more dangers than older drivers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled important facts on teen driving safety, including:

  • Car accidents are the second leading cause of death for American teens, accounting for 62% of all accidental fatalities for individuals aged 10-19.
  • 2018 saw approximately 285,000 teens aged 13-19 in the emergency room due to motor vehicle accidents, and 2,500 teens killed.
    • This translates to seven teen deaths by car accident every day for the year 2018.
    • The costs of these accidents resulted in over $11.8 billion
  • Male teens are almost twice as much at risk as females to be involved in a fatal car accident
  • Teens who have recently received their licenses are one and a half times more likely to be involved in an accident

Why are Teens More at Risk?

Due to their age and lack of driving experience, teens are more likely to be involved in accidents. However, there are additional factors that weigh in and put teenaged drivers more at risk.

  • More likely to drive with passenger distractions

Teens, especially new drivers, are more likely to have their friends ride with them when driving. Teens are also likely to carpool to school, parties, and other extracurricular activities together. Having friends in the car can result in easy distractions.

  • Inexperience in nighttime driving

Driver’s education courses don’t provide nighttime driving experience, so many teens often gain this exposure to the road at night on their own.

  • Lack of seat belt usage

Unfortunately, many teens fail to properly use seat belt restraints when driving or riding in the car with a fellow teen driver. The CDC has found that teens have the lowest seat belt usage of all Americans.

  • More easily distracted

In general, teens are more likely to attempt to multitask while driving by texting, calling, or listening to music. Almost 40% of teens reported texting while driving in a 2019 study.

  • Speeding and risk behaviors

Teens are also more likely to speed, especially male drivers. Additionally, teens may engage in other risk behaviors while driving such as playing dangerous games with other drivers such as “chicken” or racing.

  • Alcohol and drug use

Even though it is against the law, teens do drink and use recreational drugs, and those who do and then drive are at a much higher risk of being involved in an accident than adults, even at the same blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. Additionally, teenaged drivers are more likely to be involved in car accidents with a BAC below the legal adult limit than adult drivers. Some states (including Kentucky) actually have a lower BAC for person’s under 21 years of age.

Top Defensive Driving Tips

What are some of the top tips for new drivers to increase their knowledge of defensive driving and be safer on the road?

  • Don’t tailgate or follow too closely. Leaving yourself extra room to brake can make a difference in an unexpected situation. Never slam on your brakes if you can avoid it, as this can result in your being easily rear-ended. Keep an eye on cars behind you.
  • Don’t stay in other driver’s blind spots. When passing, always move efficiently past the other vehicle, or slow down and let them pass you.
  • Don’t engage with aggressive drivers. If another driver is tailgating you or engaging in behaviors that make you feel unsafe, slow down and allow them to pass you.
  • Be on the lookout for swerving vehicles. If a car is swerving, switching lanes, or driving left of center, allow them to pass you. From behind, you have better control of the situation and a better viewpoint to spot dangers.
  • Decide on an “exit” plan, or a plan for what to do should you need to quickly exit your lane. At the first sign of suspicious or dangerous traffic, check the lanes surrounding you, your blind spot, and traffic behind you and formulate a plan for how to avoid the potential hazard should you need to.
  • At stop signs and intersections, pause or slow down before moving through. Many drivers will run a light or a stop, so training yourself to look for signs of driver movement before starting through the intersection after a stop can keep you safer. Don’t blindly trust the light. Others may not and you have to protect yourself.
  • Be especially careful in neighborhoods, near parks, and near schools. Be aware of children, animals, and any objects that might enter the road suddenly and unexpectedly.

Safely Navigating Kentucky Roads

Kentucky, without a doubt, has much to offer when it comes to scenic and exciting drives. Whether you’re traveling rolling hills or city streets, accidents can happen. When driving defensively, you have a better chance of spotting potential accidents before they happen. Driving defensively makes the road safer for everyone.

Even so, if you become injured in a Kentucky car accident due to a reckless driver, the personal injury lawyers at McCoy & Sparks can help you navigate your recovery and get the compensation you deserve. Get a risk-free consultation today to better understand your case.

Trust McCoy & Sparks—Premier Personal Injury Attorneys in Nelson County

Recognized as Nelson County’s best law firm for over a decade and counting, McCoy & Sparks works to help people in trouble, representing thousands of clients in Central Kentucky with a focus on providing premium service and delivering superior results.

Regardless of the type of case, our goal is to develop a strategy that best serves your personal needs, then draws upon our courtroom skills to help you reach the best possible result. We start by getting to know you. Next, we will explain all your options, giving you the pros and cons of each choice so that you will be empowered to make informed decisions.

You owe us nothing unless we recover compensation for you. Make the right call to 844-4KY-WINS for a risk-free consultation with one of our attorneys today.