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On the road

Girl putting on her seatbelt.

It’s late, you’re tired, and all you want to do is get in the car so you can go home. But what if the driver is drunk? The answer is simple — don’t get into the car. If the driver is drunk, it's going to be a long time before it is safe for him or her to drive. To protect yourself, you must find another way home. Ask someone else to drive, call your parents/guardians, call another friend, or take a cab. Some cities have safe ride programs, where you can call a number and get a free ride home. Ask your parents/guardians for help finding out if your city has a safe ride program, before you need it.

If the driver is a parent/guardian or another adult, it may be hard for you to say that you won’t get in the car. Don’t be afraid to ask if the person has been drinking. He or she may be surprised or offended by the question, but it’s your right to have a safe ride home. If your parent/guardian is the one who is driving drunk, talk to another adult you trust or contact Alateen for help in the future.

 

Some of the same advice applies to taking rides from a driver who is over-tired. Ask someone else to drive or suggest that the driver stop to rest before continuing.

You may also be driving with friends or family members who recently got their driver’s licenses. New drivers may be too willing to take risks on the road, or may be careless and unsafe. Take notice and don’t be afraid to speak up for your safety or to find a different way to get to where you are going.

Safe driving tips

  • Always wear your seat belt. Make sure your passengers buckle up, too.
  • Never drive with more people in your car than you have seat belts for.
  • Try not to drive with more than one passenger. The more passengers in your car, the more likely you are to get in an accident. More passengers mean more distractions.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Don’t drive if you are sleepy.
  • Don’t talk on the phone, text, put on make-up, brush your hair, or eat while driving.
  • Don’t play with the radio while you’re driving. Wait until you are stopped or ask your passenger to change the station or adjust the volume.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. Be on the lookout for motorcycles, people crossing the street, and bikers.
  • Don’t be an aggressive driver. Aggressive drivers speed, follow too closely, or weave in and out of lanes.
  • Do be a defensive driver. Defensive drivers drive the speed limit, follow at a safe distance, and are alert and aware of their surroundings.

Keep your car in good working order

A girl changing the oil in her car.You may think of a car as simply a way to get from Point A to Point B, but cars need regular care to work properly. Make sure to review these items in your car regularly to keep your car safe and in good condition! Routine maintenance can save you money and keep you safe.

  • Remember to change the oil. Your car’s oil should be changed every 3,000 – 5,000 miles. The oil level should be checked every few weeks, or monthly.
  • Pay attention to the transmission. Trouble changing gears could mean a problem with the transmission. Have your transmission fluid checked when you get an oil change; low fluid could mean you have a leak.
  • Be sure your car has coolant. Coolant is a mixture of antifreeze and water that keeps the temperature of your engine low.
  • Check your tires. Learn how to check the pressure in your tires and keep them properly inflated. Overinflated and underinflated tires can be dangerous, and they also waste gas. Also, be sure your tires have enough tread.  A penny is often the simplest way to check tire tread: Stick a penny into a groove with Lincoln’s head pointing down. If the tread is lower than Lincoln's hair, your tire level is unsafe.
  • Brake safety. If you hear a whining, screeching, or grinding sound, or if you feel pulling or softness when you press the brakes, get your car looked at by a mechanic right away.
  • Check belts for wear and tear. If you’re driving an older car, make sure the seat belts aren’t frayed or damaged in any way. You want to be sure they’re in working condition in case of an accident.
  • Don’t forget to fill up! It may sound obvious, but don’t forget to keep gas in your car. Fill up when your car reaches one-quarter of a tank to keep your car in good working condition and so that you never run out while on the road.

Staying safe on public transportation

Girl getting off the bus.Keep these safety tips in mind when riding on a bus or on the subway!

  • Stay seated on all kinds of buses. Riding the school bus or a public bus can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re with your friends, but it’s important to stay seated. Leaning over the back of a seat to talk to your friend is distracting to the driver and dangerous in case of an accident. Always stay seated on a bus!
  • If your bus has a seat belt, use it. Some school buses and most public buses do not have seat belts. However, if your bus does have one, buckle up! It will keep you safer in case there’s an accident.
  • Watch out when exiting the bus. When you get off the school bus or a public bus, take five giant steps out of the door. Then pause for a moment and look around to make sure it is safe to cross the street. If you are exiting a school bus, the driver should wait for you to cross the road, if needed. Never cross in front of a public bus! Wait until the bus has pulled away and you can see when traffic has cleared so you can safely cross the street.
  • Pay attention on the platform. If you ride a subway, don’t ever play on the subway platform. It would be easy to fall onto the tracks.

 

Federal resource = This article, publication, website, or organization is from the U.S. government.

Content last reviewed September 22, 2009
Page last updated October 31, 2013

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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