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Potential hazards are always on or near the road – other drivers, the environment – and they change moment by moment. Some hazards are so dangerous we have permanent traffic signs to warn us: sharp curves ahead, flood zones, dead ends. Some are more commonplace: work zones, a change in the speed limit, one way signs – most of these are easy to identify and there’s usually plenty of time to adjust, even for novice drivers.
Other hazards are more subtle and harder to spot or anticipate: pedestrians, cyclists, and animals darting into traffic; icy patches on a dark road; emergency vehicles appearing suddenly out of nowhere. Even an experienced driver can have trouble reacting to these hazards.
With years of driving under our belts, we have gotten very good at reacting to these hazards and avoiding them most of the time. But our newly licensed teens still have a lot to learn. The difference is experience. In many instances, new teen drivers are unable to identify a potential hazard. They don’t know what to look for, much less how to react.
The science says, they only have about 3 seconds: One to recognize the hazard, two more to react, but they can't react to what they don’t see.
This is why your teen must scan the road constantly. It needs to become second nature, like it is for you. They need use all their mirrors and know what is in front of them, what is behind them and what is beside them. Most of all, your teen must learn to always think about “What happens if …,” because on the road, everything is always changing.
DriveitHOME™ is an initiative of the National Safety Council, designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers. DriveitHOME™ offers free resources parents can use to help their teen build experience to become safer drivers.
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