Teen Driving: Parent Tips and How to Avoid an Auto Accident
In the United States, teen driving-related car accidents are the number one cause of death in teenagers. The trauma from this type of an accident can last a lifetime, so it is important to talk to your children about the dangers of driving. The best thing you can do is to prepare them for the road and make sure they understand how alert they need to be when they’re behind the wheel.
Before you have these conversations, it’s helpful to know the primary causes of fatal car accidents and how you can help your children avoid these dangerous situations.
Dangerous Teen Driving Behaviors
Although teens account for less than a fifth of the general population, they are involved in almost a third of all car accidents. Excitement can easily distract teen drivers who haven’t had enough experience out on the road.
Every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) funds data collection on motor vehicle accident rates in the United States. In this technology-dominated era, distracted teen driving continues to play a large role in teenage accident-related deaths.
Distracted Teen Drivers
The NHTSA’s 2018 Teen Distracted Driver Data report shows that 3,070 teen drivers were involved in fatal accidents that year, and 8% of those teen drivers were distracted when the incident occurred. That same year, 2,841 total people died in accidents involving distracted drivers.
Among other factors, cell phone use has become one of the major root causes of distracted driving accidents not only when it comes to teens driving but also for the rest of the age categories. Adjusting maps, texting, searching for information, and changing music on the phone can take someone’s eyes off the road long enough to cause an accident. While this is mostly common knowledge, many people still feel invincible from the dangers of distracted driving.
The best way to combat these dangers is to protect against them before they start. Tell your teens to have navigation voice alerts on so they don’t need to constantly look at a map. They should keep their devices out of reach and use a car mount if they absolutely have to see directions.
By following this advice yourself, you can set a great example for young children or those who are about to start driving.
Teen Drunk Driving
Drunk driving caused 29% of all accident deaths in 2018, which is shocking considering how much money is spent every year on prevention for these types of car accidents.
If you have a teenage son, make sure he knows that men are more likely to drive drunk and that he should be extra careful. Staying silent on this topic is more harmful than the discomfort it may cause you. Every parent likes to think that their children will not drink (let alone drink and drive) underage. The reality is that teens have access to alcohol and are at risk for these car accidents—just like adults.
Developing an open line of communication between you and your teen drivers can save their lives. Be open and make sure they know they can always call you if they are intoxicated and need a ride home.
When a minor does not feel comfortable coming to their parents, they can end up making dangerous choices. Better to be safe than sorry. Let your teen know that drinking and driving is not okay under any circumstances, and help them avoid an accident or worse later.
Despite being mandatory in the manufacturing of commercial vehicles, seatbelts are quite often neglected or misused. In fact, 2016 NHTSA data shows that more than half of all passengers who died in teen driving accidents were not wearing a seat belt.
While your teen might think of a seatbelt as optional, it can save their life. Impress upon your child the importance of wearing a seatbelt no matter whether he/she is the driver or the passenger. Set the example by wearing your own seatbelt at all times. The emphasis should be on proper wear of the seatbelt, as improper use can become a hazard in itself.
The NHTSA has a seatbelt safety guide that can show your teen exactly how they should wear a seatbelt. It also debunks many common reasons why people don’t use the belt and why they are invalid and dangerous lines of thinking.
Another thing to remember is that your teens should tell their passengers to buckle up, too. Empower them to set a standard when they have others in the car. Wearing a seatbelt can reduce the likelihood of death in a passenger vehicle accident by up to 45%.
Proper Teen Driving Techniques to Avoid an Accident
Some of the more dangerous road conditions are common in parts of the country. Fog, heavy snow or rain, and even blinding sun can cause drivers to lose sight of the road.
It’s easier to drive in these conditions when you have good driving habits and are prepared to make quick decisions. Forming good driving habits is critical in lowering your risk for death or significant injury in an auto accident.
Here are some basic teen driving behaviors that all children should learn:
- Yielding right of way and making room for others on the road
- Pausing before merging by always checking the vehicle’s blind spots and using mirrors when appropriate
- Maintaining a safe distance from the car in front (especially important for preventing rear-end accidents)
- Using turn signals even when it feels silly
- Putting cell phone out of reach
- Setting the directions before driving
- Following posted speed limits—especially in school zones or residential areas
Seeking Legal Counsel
If you, a loved one, or your teen is involved in a car accident while driving, you should seek legal guidance for receiving damages. Insurance companies typically try to avoid payment at all costs. Accident attorneys understand how to navigate these situations and can help you win compensation faster.
At James McKiernan Lawyers, we offer a free consultation to discuss your accident. Our offices are located in San Luis Obispo off the central California coast. If you are in this area, we highly encourage you to reach out to our dedicated team of attorneys. You won’t owe any legal fees unless we are successful in securing compensation through your verdict or settlement.