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The aftermath of a collision, with a silver car facing an upside down red car on a freeway.

Statistically speaking, everyone gets in more than one accident in their lifetime. As a teen, your chance of having an accident is greater than everyone else. Ages 15-19 are also three times as likely to be in a crash than drivers 20 and older. Crash-prevention tips can literally save your life.

Here are a few simple things you can do to keep yourself safe on the road.

  1. Turn on your headlights

Cars drive closely toward the camera at night, the street illuminated with their headlights
Night and day, headlights can alert drivers to your location.

Even when you can see fine, other traffic may not be able to see you in some situations. Leaving your headlights on during the day makes it easy for others to see you and possibly prevent an accident knowing where you are. This is an easy safety tip to follow, especially if you have automatic lights that you don’t have to worry about turning on and off.

  1. Use your horn

It may be a little intimidating at first. Honking often sounds angry, and if that’s not what you’re going for, you may be reluctant to do so.

However, your horn is another useful tool to let cars know where you are. If a car starts to drift into your lane, a few quick honks will alert them to where you are.

To be safe, don’t lay on the horn for more than two seconds. Angry honking can lead to road rage, and sometimes confrontations from other drivers.

  1. Keep your cool

On that same note, keeping your own head will help you make better driving decisions. People drive more aggressively when they are angry, and usually that leads to impulsive and unsafe maneuvers.

Let the other driver lose their head. If you make angry gestures or lay on your horn, it will only escalate an unsafe driving situation.

  1. Always have your phone with you

A smartphone with a map on it is mounted to the driver's side dashboard
While phones can be distracting if used while driving, having your phone with you while driving could save your life.

Though you shouldn’t be looking at your phone on the road, your phone is also a life-saving device. Map applications can help you get to safety if you are in an unfamiliar area. In an emergency, you can call 9-1-1 or someone you trust to help you as soon as possible. Weather alerts can let you know if you’re in danger of flood zones, a tornado, or other natural threats.

Be sure to use Bluetooth and hands-free applications while driving. But keeping connected can keep you out of a dangerous situation.

  1. Slow down

You’ve heard it a million times. But this isn’t just because driving fast is dangerous. It’s also because it’s hard to stop or maneuver around a dangerous situation on the road. Think about in-town driving. The speed limit is 45 but the guy in front of you is only going 40. Even though the speed limit is 45, slow down to allow space between your vehicles until you can safely pass them. If you don’t, that person could brake suddenly, leaving little to no reaction time for you to hit your brakes as well.

  1. Start slow

When you start to move at an intersection, don’t punch the gas. Instead, watch the cars around the intersection to make sure no one else is coming your way illegally. Starting slowly also allows you more time to spot pedestrians and bicyclists as well.

  1. Watch the sides of the road

Similarly, looking out for people, animals, or debris in the road can help you prevent an accident. Seeing these obstacles ahead of time gives you more reaction time to slow down.

  1. Never assume what a driver will do

People often leave their blinkers on unintentionally, signaling a lane change that will never happen. Many also change their minds at the last second. The best thing to do is to wait and let that person make a move before pulling onto the road or trying to pass them.

  1. Stay in the middle lane

A motion shot of a driving lane inbetween a semi truck on the left and a black car in the right lane
The middle lane is often the safest choice when traveling on a freeway.

If you’re on a freeway, the middle lane is typically the safest. The fast lane can be dangerous because people use it to pass others. The right lane is often dangerous because of people merging and exiting the roadway. If you don’t need to pass or exit the freeway, just stay put in the middle.

  1. Regular care and maintenance

A young man with short hair and glasses works under a car.
You don’t have to be a mechanic to keep up with regular maintenance.

While you might not think about this if you’re parents help you take care of your car, it’s important to know how to maintain it for the future. Keeping your tires inflated correctly, doing regular oil changes, tire rotations, and fluid checks can all prevent disaster later on down the road (pun intended). Take the time to care for your vehicle – you’ll wish you had if you find yourself stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire.

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