College-Bound Student Safety
Students heading off to college—perhaps for the first time this year—may be inexperienced at driving long distances or driving alone. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, according to NHTSA. The risk of crashes is higher among 16- to 20-year-olds than among any other age group, and, unfortunately, young adults also are less likely to be buckled up than any other age group. When preparing college-aged children for a long drive to school, make sure they take the following precautions.
Preparing for the Trip
- Before packing the car, do a simple safety check. Turn on the lights and walk around the vehicle to ensure that all lights are in working order. Also check turn signals and look for any fluid leaks or things hanging from the vehicle. Make sure the tires are properly inflated.
- When packing your belongings in the car, make sure you pack carefully so there is nothing blocking your view through the rear window. Check your mirrors before you leave to be sure you have an unobstructed view of the road.
- Prepare an emergency supplies kit for your vehicle and keep it in your car at all times. Include a first aid kit and manual as well as items such as a blanket, flares, a flashlight and batteries, jumper cables that can be helpful and may even be lifesaving in the event of an emergency.
- No matter how far your trip is, be sure you are well rested before you hit the road.
Hitting the Road
- Leave early and give yourself enough time to travel at a comfortable pace. Remember, speeding does not increase your ability to arrive on time; it only increases your chances of not arriving at all.
- Should you find yourself getting tired from the drive, pull over to a rest stop or gas station to walk around and refresh yourself.
- Do not talk on your cell phone while driving. Phones are distracting and impair your ability to concentrate on the road. If you must use the phone, pull over to a safe, well-lit parking lot and place your call there or at least use a hands-free earpiece.
- When driving in inclement weather such as rain storms, reduce your speed. Don't make sudden moves if the roads are wet. Applying the brakes slowly and steadily will help you keep better control of your vehicle.
- And, remember to always wear your safety belt and require any passengers who ride with you to do the same.