Every January we observe Teen Driving Awareness Month. An unfortunate fact about teen driving is that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. (according to the CDC). Inexperienced driving puts teens in a dangerous scenario. To help prepare you and your teens as they become young drivers, we want to share some driving facts and safety tips that can elevate their driver education so they can remain safe and informed.
Who’s At Risk?
Teens tend to be at a much higher risk when it comes to compromised driver safety. Their driving skills are fresh, and they don’t have a lot of experience under their belt. Teen drivers that are between the ages of 16 and 19 are three times more likely than drivers 20 and older to be involved in not only a motor vehicle accident, but one that is fatal. Males tend to be more at risk, as are teens that are driving with other passengers their age. Talking to their friends, listening to music and focusing on more than just their driving creates a very distracted driving situation. Driving at night also increases the chance of an accident.
Have Your Teen Learn Their Vehicle
A great way to prepare your teen for driving responsibly is to have them learn their vehicle inside and out. The more experience they have with it, the more comfortable they will become. If they are placed in a situation where they need to act fast, they will be able to do so confidently and quickly. Make sure you spend plenty of time with your teen driving in areas with low traffic and switch up the areas where the driving occurs, so they encounter different settings and situations.
One of the main things that teens are distracted by when they get behind the wheel is their phone. Texting and talking on the phone can create some pretty unsafe scenarios that can put your teen at risk as well as other people on the road. Make sure your teen knows that when they get into their car, that they need to put their phone away until they get to their destination. A lot of vehicles come equipped with hands-free technology that can be set up when the vehicle isn’t in motion. Your teen will then be able to make and answer phone calls and text messages without having to remove their hands from the steering wheel.
Drunk Driving Prevention
As parents we want to believe that our children are always doing the right thing. Teens will sometimes partake in some risky behavior as they navigate their way through life though. If your teen decides to participate in underage drinking, they should know they can reach out to you for assistance if they need a safe ride home. They should never get behind the wheel of a vehicle if they’ve been drinking, and they definitely shouldn’t get into a vehicle with someone else that may have been drinking as well. There is time for conversation about what happened later on. Let your teen know that they always have a safe ride home, no questions asked.
You may want to make it a rule that your teen can only drive by themselves or with an adult when they’re first learning to drive. In fact, some states actually have licensing laws that prevent them from having passengers in their vehicle until they have had their license for a certain period of time. In some states, they have to be 18 or have their license for 12 full months before bringing someone along. There may also be rules about when your teen can drive. Many states prevent teens from driving past 9 P.M. unless it’s for a work-related reason. Limiting the number of passengers in their car will help drastically reduce the distraction-factor for your young driver.
Learning the Rules of the Road
There’s a lot of driving knowledge that comes from simply driving more and more. You can help your teen gain this education by allowing them to drive when you’re going out. Talk to them (calmly) while you move along, explaining different things that are happening and various things to take note of. Just make sure you’re not doing so in a distracting manner. Allow your teen to drive in different cities and on different roadways (interstates, county roads, neighborhood streets). They should also do plenty of studying early on before they even get into a vehicle. Your city or county likely offers driving handbooks and manuals at your local Department of Motor Vehicles office.
In the unfortunate situation that your teen is involved in a motor vehicle accident, we here at Williams DeLoatche, P.C. can help. We offer legal assistance with matters such as car accidents, traffic violations and DUI, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents and much more. Reach out to us today for assistance.