Warm weather is here, prom season is approaching, and summer is around the corner…it’s the perfect time to talk to your young drivers about practicing safe driving behaviors.
Driving sober (free from alcohol and/or drugs):
PREVENTION IS KEY: Impairment begins with the first drink. It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 to operate any motor vehicle after illegally consuming alcohol. Impaired drivers cause crashes that lead to injury, death and property damage. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about a quarter of those crashes involve an underage drinking driver. NHTSA also reports that kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash. Remember, drugged driving (under the influence of prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal narcotics is equally as dangerous. For additional resources on drunk-driving or underage drinking visit: MADD or Fairfax County Police Department’s Alcohol Awareness and Education webpage.
Driving in inclement conditions (e.g. rain, fog, snow):
Young drivers inherently have less driving experience and therefore less experience in traveling during adverse conditions. Our Metro region is no stranger to snow, rain and ice events. Make sure to include such discussion topics such as safe speeds for driving conditions, making sure equipment (e.g. windshield wipers and headlights) are operable, and even whether a commute in less than favorable weather conditions is even worth the risk!
Vehicle equipment safety: Ensure that your young driver is aware of their vehicle’s equipment, limitations, and it operational requirements. Operable windshield wipers, horn, brakes, lighting are just examples of a few considerations when keeping a vehicle functioning, safe, and legal while increasing safety for everyone on our roadways. For more information visit the Virginia Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection Program webpage.
Distracted driving: Have the talk about distracted driving. Did you know that texting and driving is illegal in Virginia and most other states now, and that mobile phones or other devices may be illegal to use period depending on your age. Remember, distracted driving is not only texting, it is talking to passengers, operating a radio or GPS, doing makeup or hair…it is any behavior that detracts from the primary function of driving. For more information and links to resources, click here.
Seatbelt use: Parents, guardians and peers often serve to set an example to new drivers. Together, let us teach our youth to put their seatbelt on when they get in there vehicle for the first time and every time regardless if they are the driver or passenger. There is no reason to increase the possibility of injury or death if in a crash by simply not putting a seatbelt on. CDC informational flyer on seatbelt use in Virginia.
Youth driving laws and restrictions in the Commonwealth of Virginia: Make sure both you and your young driver are aware of young and probationary driving restrictions. For example, did you know that?
- Virginia’s curfew laws prohibit drivers under the age of 18 who hold a learner’s permit or driver’s license from driving between midnight – 4 a.m. (exceptions may apply).
- Passenger restrictions may apply for drivers under 18 years of age.
- Virginia’s cellular telephone law (Code of Virginia § 46.2-334.01 (C)) restricts a driver under age 18, who holds a learner’s permit or driver’s license, from using any cellular telephone or any other wireless communications device, regardless of whether such device is or is not hand-held (exceptions may apply in emergencies or certain situations when legally stopped).
Use these topics to help start a dialog with your young driver, or driver’s education class about establishing safe driving habits, knowing the traffic safety laws and understanding the necessity of operating a safe vehicle. The Fairfax County Police Department actively enforces both adult and youth traffic law within our community, and encourages the education of youth on proper driving in Virginia. The goal of enforcement and educational efforts is to reduce the number of crashes with may cause injury, death and property damage.
Let’s work together as a community to set a good example of safe driving habits to our youth and the next generation of drivers in Fairfax County!
Click map for full-size PDF.