Tips for Teens

Here are a few driving tips to take on the road with you so that you're prepared for hazards and emergencies.  

1. Keep your eyes moving

Naturally, people tend to look directly in front of their vehicle when driving or right at the car in front of them. This is a big mistake and a bad driving habit. You should always look as far down the road as possible and keep your eyes moving.

2. Use all your senses

When you’re driving, you should be using all of your senses. Most people instinctively use their vision, but what about your sense of smell? Are you noticing the smell of burning oil or brakes? Are you listening for problems with your vehicle or sirens from emergency vehicles? It’s so common for brand new drivers to get their license, hit the road solo, and blast their stereo as loud as it will go. I get it, driving and music does seem to go hand in hand, but just remember, by turning up your music you are removing a very good sense and increasing your risk of a crash. So do so with caution.

3. Control your distractions

Talking on a cell phone or texting while driving are common forms of distracted driving, but there are other forms of distracted driving that could be even more dangerous. Did you know having a passenger in your car is one of the most dangerous distractions you can have? Technically, doing anything other than paying attention to your driving is distracted driving. It is up to you to control the level of these distractions. If you just can’t stand not answering your phone when it rings, shut it off while you’re in the car. 

4. Slow down

As a general guide, as you approach any situation, ask yourself "Is it safe to carry on". If the answer is "Don't know", slow down, and keep slowing down as you approach. If you still don't know when you are about eight car lengths away from the situation (by which time you will be going very slow!) the decision is easy ... Don't go!

5. Take a break

On some roads, particularly on motorways, you will see signs that say 'Tiredness kills - Take a break'  At 100km/h, falling asleep for just one second will mean that you travel about 30 metres with no control. If you start to feel tired, get out of the car and take a brisk walk. Remember to stop for light meals and snacks.

6. Keep a safe gap

The most common cause of accidents is a lack of space between vehicles, usually caused by excessive speed. You owe it to yourself and your passengers to keep a safe gap between you and the car ahead at all times.

The easiest way to judge a safe gap is to use the two-second rule. By keeping a minimum of a two second time gap in front of your vehicle, you will create space in which to react to any emergency that happens ahead. In wet weather or on poor road surfaces you should double this gap. Remember that two seconds is a minimum gap, the longer the gap, the bigger your safety margin.

For an extensive range of 'How To' tutorials and driving videos, check out NZTA's YouTube channel here.