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Driving tips for teens

standard wheels:with Andrew Muzamhindo

Many young drivers will take to the road this school holiday
With inexperience comes the chance of accidents and possible fatalities. It is so sad to lose young lives. The youth is the future of our nation. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. There continues to be a huge need for driver training and education in our country.

As a motoring analyst who drives all kinds of vehicles for the auto manufacturers, I have been in many different driving situations and have seen just about everything on the roads that young and experienced drivers alike do wrong. There are many things that can make a big difference in getting to your intended destination safely. This week I will share some driving tips that will help you navigate our roads and highways safely.

Many of the things I will share are common sense things that everyone knows, but sometimes forget about. Some may be new insights that you can implement on your way to school or work today. All will help if you think about what you are doing every time you get behind the wheel.

The most common mistake we all make while driving is being distracted from watching the road. This would include anything that takes our eyes off the road or takes our hands off the steering wheel. This can be something as simple as reaching to tune the radio, using your mobile phone or adjusting the climate control. A bigger thing would be driving while tired and falling asleep at the wheel.

The most common distraction while driving is anything that involves using a cell phone. Texting or talking on the phone can lead to taking both eyes and hands off where they should be. Younger drivers are big into using current technology, but they don’t mix well with driving. Anytime you aren’t giving your full attention to the road, there’s an opportunity for being distracted and having an accident. Research shows that your reaction when using your phone is worse than that of a drunkard, who is above the alcohol limit by seven times.

Other common mistakes are eating or drinking while driving. Most of us have busy lives and we tend to try to do multiple things while commuting to and from work or school. We are in a hurry and grab our breakfast on the way out the door. Even something like drinking coffee or a soft drink in the car can distract us from what is going on around us.

The biggest distraction for teen drivers can come from other passengers in the car. Passengers in the front and back seats can be a huge distraction to a younger driver, who doesn’t have the experience and can lead to serious misjudgements. In other countries insurance companies won’t even allow teen drivers to have passengers in the car under a certain age because of the risk involved.

Giving your full attention at all times can be the simplest, but most important thing you do while driving.

It’s important to do a few key things before you even start your vehicle. The first thing is to put on your seat belt. Teens have the lowest rate of seatbelt use of any age group. Unbelted occupants are often ejected after a crash, which can result in life-threatening head injuries. And with rollovers accounting for about 25 % of all fatal crashes, it’s vitally important to be buckled up.

The first thing I do when I get into the car is to adjust the driver’s seat, height and telescoping of the steering wheel, and adjust both outside mirrors and the rearview mirror before I even start the vehicle. This may seem basic, but you want to have your vehicle customized to your body so you can have optimum control over the car you’re driving. If other family members are also driving the car, it’s important you do this every time. Mirrors can also be bumped out of adjustment in parking lots while parked so it’s important to check them every time you get into the vehicle.

Another simple but important thing to do is to always drive with your lights on during the day. Studies have shown that other drivers will spot you a spit second sooner if your lights are on. This can mean the difference between someone seeing you soon enough to avoid an accident. If your vehicle is not equipped with DRL, then turn them on before you drive off.

It just takes a few extra minutes to make sure you and your vehicle are at its optimum for safety. As a teen driver, you want to have every advantage in your favour when navigating our busy Zimbabwe streets and highways.

Obey speed limits please.
l andrew@muzamhindo.com

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