(BPT) - Getting a driver's license is a pivotal moment for many teens, and with the privilege of driving comes greater freedom and independence. For parents, this can be both a moment of great pride and overwhelming anxiety.
In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that drivers 19-years-old and younger were more likely to be involved in motor vehicle collisions than any other driver on the road. According to NHTSA, teens are three times more likely to get into an accident than drivers over the age of 20.
It's not surprising that teen drivers fall into a higher collision risk category given their inexperience. Additionally, teens are more likely to speed, text, drive without a seat belt and they typically maintain a closer following distance than more seasoned drivers.
'Taking the time to talk to teens about their driving practices can help prevent accidents,' says Bob Abram, product planning manager for Yokohama Tire Corporation, maker of a variety of truck and car tires. 'Teaching teens about proper vehicle maintenance - especially tires - is also important and often overlooked.'
Abram says tire maintenance is crucial because tires have an enormous effect on braking, steering, comfort and handling. 'Unfortunately, tires are not always top-of-mind when it comes to routine vehicle upkeep. When tires are inflated appropriately and wheel alignment adjusted correctly, the driver has better control. Improper alignment causes uneven tread wear and reduces the life of a tire.'
Underinflated tires can also increase the stopping distance of a vehicle, warns Abram. 'Taking care of your tires properly can help prevent skidding, aid in emergency stops and traffic avoidance maneuvers, as well as provide more traction on wet roads.'
Today's tire technology gives teen drivers an added advantage on the road, according to Abram. 'We've taken compound technology from our racing products and adapted it to our everyday tires like the GEOLANDAR HT G056 and AVID Ascend to improve durability and grip, so you and your teenage driver can feel confident and safe.'
Abram reiterates that parents should teach teens about tire care to optimize vehicle control and maximize safety. Here are a few of his rules of thumb concerning tire care:
* Tires must be replaced before the tread wears down below 2/32 of an inch. A quick and easy tread test involves placing a penny into the grooves of the tire. If Lincoln's head is completely visible, the tires should be replaced.
* Check tire pressure at least once a month. Consult the vehicle's owner's manual or placard on driver's door to determine proper tire pressure. Tire pressure should be checked when the tires are cold.
* Alignment should be checked at least once a year or if the vehicle is pulling to one side to avoid uneven wear on tire tread. Tire balance should also be monitored.
* Regular rotation of tires promotes even wearing of tread. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.