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Road Trip Safety: 6 Tips for Your Teen’s First Road Trip

Your teen’s first road trip without parental supervision is a nerve-wracking and exciting event. By following these tips, you can help your teen spread his or her wings and achieve a safe and successful road trip. Before your teen embarks on his or her journey, make sure you go over safety instructions and car knowledge. Cars can unexpectedly encounter flat tires, battery or engine issues. Your teen should have a general awareness of automobile mechanics and best driving practices. Here are six pieces of valuable information that will ensure your teen’s first road trip is a safe one:

Tune-up

Before your teen heads out, the two of you should visit a mechanic. Your teen should be in attendance because it will help him or her understand some of the car’s basic maintenance requirements. Make sure all of the car’s fluids are full, like the windshield washer fluid and coolant. The car should have a fresh oil change if the mileage will surpass the numerical benchmark for oil replacement. It is often best you bring your own oil, rather than use a shop’s oil selection. You will have greater control over the quality of the oil and won’t be charged the shop’s premium price. A brake check is also a good idea, as high-functioning brakes are imperative for safe driving.

Tires

Bad tires are a major safety risk. Your teen’s tires should be properly inflated and have good tread, before he or she hits the road. Don’t hesitate on tire replacement, if they are too worn. Other vital tire maintenance includes rotation and alignment. This helps the tire have evened wear, which lengthens its lifespan.

Safety Gear

Provide your kid with a car safety kit that includes all the necessities he or she may need in an emergency situation. The AAA 73-piece Explorer Road kit has road assistance tools that your teen can use. The tools include booster cables, LED flashlight, emergency poncho, whistle, duct tape, utility knife and more. There is also a comprehensive first aid kit that has 121 pieces that can treat injury.

Rest

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about 100,000 police-reported crashes each year are caused by driver fatigue. Young people, ages 18 to 29, are reported as the most common age group that will partake in drowsy driving. Driving while tired decreases focus, causes lapses of attention and alters behavior — all factors that increase the likelihood of a car accident. Make sure your teen has pre-routed stops for the evenings. He or she should also plan on taking periodic breaks during the day when he or she can stretch and reenergize his or her body.

Navigation

Your teen should have a clear plan of where he or she is driving. He or she should look up gas stations ahead of time, so he or she knows which stretches of road don’t have stations within a reasonable amount of miles. Your teen will most likely use his or her smartphone for directions. Smartphone use while driving is against the law, so your teen should plug in the coordinates before he or she starts the car. Purchase a phone mount and cradle for the car’s dashboard, so your teen will reference the directions without diverting his or her attention downward and away from the road.

Weather

The weather is a powerful force that can increase accident risk. Weather conditions that hinder driving include fog, rain, snow and bright sun. The sun can impair the vision of your teen, especially at the golden hour when it’s aligned with the horizon. Your teen should have a good pair of sunglasses that will help him or her see the road and protect his or her eyes from sun damage. Foggy conditions should be combated with your headlights, though not on the bright setting. Your teen should have a set of snow chains for his or her tires, especially if he or she is traveling through a mountain pass.

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