Driving Tips for Teens

FDOT District Two Community Traffic Safety Program developed ten short videos with driving tips for teens. A series of brief educational and informative traffic safety messages were posted on YouTube for National Teen Driver Safety Week – and all year long. The highest percentage of our Traffic Safety Team YouTube channel audience (41.6%) is between the ages of 18 and 24, and an ideal place to help educate teens about speeding, distracted driving, and other road rules.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2021, Florida teens made up nearly 5 percent of Florida’s driving population. However, more than 11 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in Florida involved a teen driver. Parents, teachers, and caregivers are a great source of driver education, and we hope they share these videos.

Occupant Protection and Distracted Driving Road Rules:

Buckle Up – It Can Save Your Life
Stop Distractions – Focus on Driving

Safety belts save lives! Buckling up properly is the single, most effective way to protect yourself in a crash. Wear your safety belt across your shoulder and your waist. Front seat drivers and passengers AND backseat passengers under age 18 – MUST wear a safety belt (Florida Law!)

Distracted driving is NOT just from cell phones but also includes: talking to passengers, eating, adjusting the radio, reaching for items in the backseat, putting on cosmetics, and anything that takes your attention away from the roadway. Please put your phone down, and focus on driving! In Florida, texting and driving are not just dangerous; it’s illegal.

Bicycle Safety and Motorcycle Driving Tips for Teens and All Motorists:

Bike Safety for Cyclists and Motorists
Please Always Ride Responsibly

Cyclists, please note: Lighting equipment on your bicycle is required at night. Helmets are required for those under 16 years of age. You are required to have properly working brakes. Always ride on the right-hand shoulder of the road. Do not wear earbuds in both ears. Motorists, this is Florida law: When passing a bike on the roadway, you must give three feet when passing. Please watch for sharrow markings on the road – this means that motorists must share the lane with cyclists.

Many factors can lead to motorcycle crashes – not just inexperienced motorcycle riders and motorists – but careless driving. Left turns in front of motorcycles are the leading reason for a crash – 40% of the time. Always look twice and drive with care. Bikes that are over 50cc require an endorsement on your license – Make sure you get the proper training and wear a helmet!

Pedestrian Safety and Florida’s Move Over Law:

Learn About Pedestrian RRFBs
Move Over and Slow Down

Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) Tips for pedestrians: Activate the signal by pushing the button. Wait for the lights to flash. Step to the curb and wait for traffic to stop. Cross the road while constantly monitoring traffic. And tips for Florida drivers: If you approach an RRFB and the lights are flashing, and a pedestrian is present, you must come to a complete stop at the stop bar. Remain stopped until the pedestrians are across the roadway. You may proceed with caution after the pedestrians have cleared the road.

Drivers, here is what you need to know about the Florida Move Over Law. This law includes police, emergency, service vehicles, Florida Road Rangers, tow trucks, construction, and other utility vehicles that are stopped on the side of the road and displaying flashing yellow, red, or blue lights. On approach, move over one lane. If you cannot safely move over, reduce your speed by at least 20 mph below. Police are cracking down. You might receive a moving violation if you do not abide by this Florida law

Lane Departure and Intersection Traffic Safety Tips:

Lane Departure is a Leading Cause of Fatalities
Traffic Safety at Intersections

Speeding on a curve is one of the leading causes of lane departure crashes. Never accelerate going into a curve! Release acceleration, coast through the curve, then resume acceleration. Chevrons, rumble strips, barriers, and guardrails are all countermeasures to reduce lane departure. Please drive carefully!

In Florida, intersections are among the top 2 locations for serious injury crashes. When approaching an intersection, be aware of driveway accesses, vehicles that suddenly come to a complete stop, and cars that suddenly change lanes in front of you. When stopped at a red light, check for pedestrians. Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists before turning right. When you see the flashing yellow arrow, yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

School Bus and Railroad Crossing Safety Reminders:

Stop for School Buses
Railroad Crossing Safety Tips

Here are some important railroad crossing tips to keep in mind: Do not drive through, around, or under a railroad crossing gate. Never stop on the tracks. Stay back at least 15 feet from the track. Walking or stopping on the tracks is hazardous.

When the yellow lights begin to flash on a school bus, it is coming to a stop to load or unload students; you must stop and do not pass the bus. Remain stopped until the stop panels are retracted, the door is closed, and the bus begins to proceed. The only time you are not required to stop for a school bus is if you are in the opposing lanes of the bus on a roadway with a raised median or physical barrier of at least five feet or more.

These road rules apply to drivers of all ages, significantly younger inexperienced motorists. The goal is to reduce crashes and eliminate fatalities and severe injuries on our roadways. #TargetZeroFL

Other Important Reminders for Teen Drivers:

  • Reduce the number of passengers
  • Lower music volume
  • Use turn signals
  • Limit driving at dark
  • Obey the speed limit
  • Stop at stop signs and traffic lights
  • Share the road

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, more than half of teens killed in crashes were not wearing a safety seat belt. We cannot say this enough, please always buckle up for every car ride!

Links to Additional Resources and Driving Tips for Teens:

Defensive Driving Tools for Safety

Defensive Driving Tools for Safety was written and presented by Jeff Hohlstein, a Community Traffic Safety Team member in Clay County, Florida. This educational driving and traffic safety video is geared towards aging road users. However, these are essential tips and reminders for all drivers.

Watch the Defensive Driving Video Presentation:

Learn about setting side view mirrors for blind spots. Understand the importance of keeping a safe following distance and obeying the speed limit. The “three-second rule” is a good idea for all drivers to keep in mind. While this rule is flexible and isn’t always appropriate in every driving situation, it can foster good driving habits that reduce the risk of rear-end collisions and similar accidents.

Gain an understanding of observing a vehicle’s front wheels, approaching intersections safely, and scanning through a signalized intersection. Learn how to use the OODA Loop while driving. OODA is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. When you do it again and again, it becomes a constant decision loop. Retired Colonel John Boyd, USAF, developed this rapid decision-making tool. Today, OODA is used by many Armed Forces and Police agencies and can be used as a defensive driving tool for motorists.

Flip through the Defensive Driving Tools for Safety Presentation:

Most people set their side view mirrors straight back and miss their blind spot completely. The video covers how to set your side view mirrors to cover your blind spot.

This video discusses how to use OODA to stay safe while driving. Defensive driving is much about managing space around your vehicle. The most controllable area you have is your safe following distance. OODA will help you do that right. OODA will also help you develop scan patterns for navigating intersections and avoiding a collision when someone unsafely enters your right-of-way.  

Uses of OODA in defensive driving:

  • Observe > Following distance, traffic patterns; intersections of all kinds; vehicles around you.
  • Orient > Calculate the following distance; identify other potential conflicts.
  • Decide > Action to maintain safe following distance; plan to avoid those other conflicts.
  • Act > Establish/reestablish safe following distance; avoid those other conflicts whether or not the crash would have been your fault.
  • Do it again > Practice OODA until it’s as natural as driving itself.
Jeff Hohlstein presenting Defensive Driving Tools for Safety

Click here to read Jeff Hohlstein’s first article, Three Defensive Driving Tools to Avoid Great Impact, and what the video presentation from 2020.

Teen Drivers Speeding

The Northeast Florida Community Traffic Safety Team examines the tragic trend of teen drivers speeding.

Teens and Speeding: Breaking the Deadly Cycle Report

In January, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), in partnership with Ford Motor Company Fund, released a new report, Teens and Speeding: Breaking the Deadly Cycle.  The new analysis for GHSA found that from 2015 to 2019, teen drivers and passengers (16-19 years of age) accounted for a greater proportion of speeding-related fatalities (43%) than all other age groups (30%). During this five-year period, 4,930 teen drivers and passengers died in speeding-related crashes in the United States.

Recently, we created and shared a video of a local teen driver. He shared his reasons not to speed after receiving a hefty speeding citation. His story is a positive one as no one was hurt. Unfortunately, there are too many injuries and fatalities among teenage drivers and passengers.

Teen Driver Statistics in FDOT District Two

FDOT District Two had 6,928 total teen driver crashes in 2019. Despite a strong Graduated Driver License (GDL) law in Florida, we are still experiencing a high volume of teen crashes. Below are some more statistics on teen drivers in our communities.

The numbers of crashes with injuries increase as inexperienced teen drivers get more confident and start showing careless driving behaviors like speeding. Males and females injured in teen driver crashes are about even. Serious injuries and fatalities are predominantly male, by almost double. Duval County, with the higher populated–urban areas, illustrates a drastic increase of injuries and fatalities among teen drivers. Together, our traffic safety community, partners, parents and caregivers can help reduce risky and careless teen driving through education, training, and law enforcement.

More Teens and Speeding Reports

Click here to read the complete GHSA news release: As Traffic Deaths Spike During COVID-19, New Report Examines Unsettling Trend of Teen Drivers Speeding – and Dying – on America’s Roads.

Click here for the full GHSA and Ford Motor Company Fund PDF report: Teens and Speeding: Breaking the Deadly Cycle, which examines the significant role speeding plays in teen driver fatalities and offers practical tools to help parents rein in this lethal driving habit.

Additional Teen Drivers Speeding Resources:
Florida Teen Safe Driving Coaltion
FDOT State Safety Office – Speeding and Aggressive Driving

Drive to Save Lives

U R The Key: Drive to Save Lives tour at area high schools

Car crashes continue to be the number one cause of death of teens. Cara Filler, whose identical twin sister was killed in a crash while riding with her boyfriend, who was speeding and showboating, presented Drive to Save Lives to many Jacksonville and St. Augustine high school students. She uses her personal tragedy to educate teens in a positive and simple way on how to be a safe passenger, how to get out of driving with an impaired or dangerous driver, and how to take personal charge of your own safety, emphasizing “your life, your choice.”

Special thanks to Florida SADD and grants from State Farm and the Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition for making Cara’s life-saving presentations available at eight of our schools.

Your Community Traffic Safety Team and other educational outreach of groups such as SADD and the Teen Safe Driving Coalition continue to do all possible to decrease teen deaths on our roadways. Through presentations such as Cara’s, our community leaders and partners are helping to ensure that teen drivers have the information, motivation, and tools to keep them safe on the road.

Cara’s powerful presentation will not be forgotten by students and faculty, whose response was enthusiastic and positive. A video recorded and produced by Favorite Studios is a highlight of the full presentation.