How to Prevent One of the Most Common Teen Driving Mistakes

Here in Atlanta, where we have the 4th worst traffic in the nation, we see a lot of crazy driving. People change lanes without looking, cut dangerously close to other cars, fail to obey traffic signs, and text behind the wheel.

Think about the last time you had a close call in the car. How did you react? Chances are, as an experienced driver, your instincts took over. If someone tried to change lanes without seeing you, you honked the horn or, because you were aware of road conditions, carefully maneuvered your car out of harm’s way. Now imagine you are 16 and newly licensed. Even small incidents like a car starting to swerve into a their lane can cause big trouble for an inexperienced teen driver. Why?

Because of over correcting.

Master Police Officer James Poer III has stated that over correcting a vehicle is one of the most common mistakes he has seen among teen drivers. To bring the point home, just last week, a wreck on Tara Boulevard in Clayton County, Georgia left a teenage boy in critical condition all because he over corrected.

Over correction occurs when a teen driver faces a situation on the road to which he is unaccustomed. Because he isn’t an experienced driver, his natural instinct is to turn the wheel quickly to avoid an accident. Unfortunately, when a car or truck is over corrected, momentum makes the vehicle continue to go forward while the sudden change of direction makes the rear of the vehicle veer in another direction. When the inexperienced driver perceives that he has turned the wheel too far and fast, he immediately turns it back in the other direction, causing a total loss of control. Many times, as happened in the Clayton County accident, the car will go into a roll. In that case, the car rolled and ended up in the opposite lane of traffic where the critically ill teenager was found by rescue workers hanging from a passenger window.

The only way to stop your teens from falling into the over correction trap is to make sure they have enough driving experience to deal with difficult situations. Poer recommends taking your child to a large empty parking lot and instructing them to gently swerve their vehicle back and forth. This will teach teens to control a vehicle without making the potentially deadly mistake of over correcting.

As if the example of the tragedy in Clayton County weren’t enough, this YouTube video, taken from the dash cam of a Michigan police officer, shows the potential danger of over correcting. (Before viewing, note that the driver came away with only minor injuries. The driver and the officer you see in the video both credit the use of a seatbelt with saving her life.)