The best way to keep young drivers safe is to start with a well-maintained, properly equipped vehicle. To guide you in that task, we’ve created 10 of the best tips that will assist in letting your teens make smarter decisions, and help parents protect themselves.
1. Re-tire the car with new tires and make sure they’re properly inflated. If the tires have miles on them, be certain to check the remaining tread depth. Underinflated new tires perform almost as poorly as bald tires. Make sure your tires are inflated per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
2. Make sure the brakes work properly. This involves more than checking the thickness of brake pads. If the old fluid is black or contains flecks of rubber or rust, a professional rebuild is required. Ask a pro to make sure the brake discs, brake lines and antilock braking system are in top condition.
3. Steer the right path. Take your student’s car to a professional to make sure the steering and suspension systems are in good shape. Worn bushings or ball joints will quickly wear out those new tires and the car will steer imprecisely.
4. It’s impossible to avoid hazards if you can’t see. The windshields of older cars are frequently pitted by sand and salt and may become opaque in some lighting. What does the windshield on your student’s car look like? Depending on its condition, investing in a new one may be a smart move.
5. If your student’s car doesn’t have a built-in GPS-based navigation system, invest in a portable model. Typically, these may be mounted to the windshield or dash. Such satellite-based GPS devices are relatively inexpensive and increase safety.
6. Drinking and driving while intoxicated are common among underage high school. Additionally, a DUI conviction means a suspended license, so remind your student they’ll be stuck riding the bus.
7. Protect yourself & get adequate insurance coverage. Keep in mind that in many states, you’ll be held financially responsible for your minor children if the minor is involved in an accident while driving your car.
8. Be prepared. Put together an emergency roadside kit. At the minimum, fill a backpack with a flashlight, road flares, a reflective triangle, a space blanket, radiator stop-leak, a fire extinguisher, aerosol tire inflator, duct tape and a pair of old sneakers.
9. A disturbing trend is teens loaning out their car. Keep in mind that if an accident occurs with another child at the wheel, you could be sued. Let your student know that if they loan out the car one time, he or she will be bicycling for the rest of the term.
10. Many college students must rent or borrow a trailer to get all their stuff to school. Safe trailer towing requires the proper hardware and a skilled driver. Some makers of SUVs require brakes on the trailer if the gross weight of the trailer — the trailer and all the stuff inside — exceeds 1,000 pounds.