School's out, and summer is upon us. Sunny days, late evenings with friends, and solo road trips are some of the best perks of summer.
However, the weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the most dangerous for teen drivers: there’s a reason it’s known as the “100 deadliest days." Young drivers are three times as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash during this time frame, according to AAA.
Before hitting the road, check out these seven safety tips so you can ace your first solo summer road trip.
1. Prepare the car.
Before heading out on your adventure, take the time to prepare your car for a long journey.
It’s smart to get a complete tune-up on your car before going on a long drive. This includes checking the air system, fuel and emission filters, battery, tires, and windshield wipers. You may also want to stock your trunk with a few emergency essentials such as water, food, and blankets.
2. Get some sleep.
Driving drowsy is dangerous to you, any friends in the car, and others on the road. When you head out on a road trip, be sure to get enough sleep the night before. If you feel sleepy at all while driving, pull over and have another licensed friend take the wheel.
Another option is to find a safe place to pull over and rest. It’s better to take the time to rest than risk an accident on the road because you fell asleep. Also, try to drive during the day and avoid driving at night on a dark road. Enjoy the journey, rest along the way, and stay safe when driving to your destination.
3. Buckle up.
The minute you get in the car, buckle your seatbelt and make sure everyone else in the car buckles up, as well.
It should be common sense to wear a seatbelt when in the car, since it reduces the risk of death in crashes by almost half, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Unfortunately, more than 60 percent of teens killed in car accidents were not wearing a seat belt, according to AAA. Buckling up is a non-negotiable when driving—including on a road trip.
4. Avoid distractions.
Distracted driving means more than just using your phone. Drivers can be distracted physically, mentally, and emotionally. First, never use your phone to text or make calls when driving. Have a passenger respond to messages if necessary, control music, and navigate GPS. Avoid eating in the car, as this takes your hands off the wheel, too. And if you’re angry, upset or otherwise emotionally distracted, make sure to take a break.
5. Turn the music down.
Creating the perfect playlist is part of the fun of a summer road trip. However, when driving, make sure the volume isn’t too loud. You need to be able to hear sirens and listen to your tires on the road. And if the music is blaring, you’ll be distracted and more likely to get in an accident. Make sure the driver isn’t controlling the music—delegate DJ duties to a passenger so you can focus on the road and get to your destination safely.
6. Communicate often.
As you venture off into the world, make sure you and your parents have a communication plan in place. Let th