As a parent, there’s nothing quite as nerve-wracking as seeing your teen pull out of the driveway for the first time without you in the vehicle. But rather than allowing the fear to serve no purpose, you can direct your concerns into helping to keep your child safe. Auto accidents involving teen drivers are preventable, and parents play an important role in ensuring that teens adopt safe driving practices. If you our your teen has been injured in a car accident, call our teen driving accident law firm today!
Teen Accident Statistics
The National Safety Council reports the most dangerous time of a teen’s life is the first 12 months of having a driver’s license. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Inexperienced teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in an accident than adults. When they have three or more teen passengers, that risk is quadrupled.
Most accidents involving teens are caused by inexperience. As a matter of fact, 75% of teen crashes are due to “critical errors,” according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute. These errors include: lack of scanning the road, going too fast for conditions, and being distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle.
Preventing Teen Auto Accidents
There are things parents can do to keep teens safe during their first months behind the wheel. New drivers may not like restrictions, but these safety precautions could save their lives.
- Enroll your child in driver’s education. Even if driver’s education is required for a license, extending your child’s time in driver’s ed classes will improve their knowledge and preparation for real-life driving situations.
- Supervise first few months of driving. Though New York state law requires new drivers to be supervised behind the wheel, you have the option of extending this supervision period. Ride along with your teen until you feel comfortable that he or she can handle adverse conditions like traffic congestion, bad weather, and other dangerous drivers.
- Limit the number of passengers. New York state law allows a new driver to have only one passenger under age 21. However, even a single passenger can be a distraction—especially when it’s another teen.
- Model safe driving practices. Teens learn to drive from years of watching their parents. They see how you handle situations behind the wheel and will likely apply your practices to their own driving. Be safe. Abide by speed limits, avoid distractions, and remain calm when traffic or other drivers get under your skin.
- Forbid cellphones. Cellphone distractions are a major cause of teen auto accidents. Forbid any cellphone use by your new driver.
Teens and Distracted Driving
In 2010, 11 percent of teen drivers who died in car accidents were distracted at the time of the crash. Phone calls, text messages, and even typing an address into a GPS app can take your attention away from the road and lead to a serious crash.
A recent study found that simply reaching for a cellphone is a major distraction. Reuters recently reported on research finding that teen drivers face accident risks 8.3 times higher when dialing a phone, 8 times higher when reaching for an object, 7.1 times higher when reaching for a cell phone, and 3.9 times higher when sending or receiving a text. Eating and drinking also increase accident risk.
The solution to these distractions is simple: Remove the cellphone from the equation. When the engine starts, the cellphone should be placed in the glove box or powered down. Though teens won’t like this rule, it’s for their own safety.
Teen Driving Tips For Safety On The Roads
As any parent can attest, handing over the keys to your teen driver can bring about mixed feelings. While you likely want to encourage them to enjoy their newfound independence, you are also concerned about their safety on the road. Parents of teen drivers have good reason to worry. Teen drivers are more likely to be involved in car accidents than any other age group.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), roughly eight teen drivers (ages 16-17) are treated in New York hospitals every day due to car crashes. Eight teens in the same age group die each day from injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes across the U.S. More than 350,000 teens are sent to emergency rooms with injuries sustained in collisions each day.
However, as a parent, there is no need to panic. Your teen can follow specific driving practices that will help to keep the teen on the roads and could even help to lower insurance rates (as long as he or she maintains a clean driving record). As a parent, you have a responsibility to set a good example for your teen driver and make sure to talk to him or her about safe driving practices.
Here are five items that you should talk with your teen about on a regular basis:
Turn Your Phone Off
Several studies have shown that using a smartphone (even in hands-free mode) while driving is equivalent to driving while under the influence of alcohol. If reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for at least five seconds, and you are going 60 mph, you may travel the length of a football field – blindly.
Make sure your teen understands how distracting it is to use smartphones while driving and have them commit to turning their phones off. Specific apps can block texting while driving, including Cellcontrol, Drive Safe Mode and Live2Text – to name a few. Others reward your teen for driving safely by providing financial bonuses and discounts on purchases at select retailers. These apps include SafeDrive, Drivemode and Drivesafe.ly.
Additionally, make sure your teen knows that New York law prohibits drivers with a probationary license, Class DJ, Class MJ or a learner permit from texting or using a cell phone while driving. If a teen violates this law, the teen could face consequence that include mandatory suspension of the teen’s driver’s license or permit for 120 days for a first offense.
Always Wear Your Seatbelt
The action of buckling your seatbelt every time you get into a vehicle is a simple but often overlooked step that teen drivers (and their passengers) can take to keep themselves safe. Simply put: Seatbelts save lives. Make sure your teen understands how this simple safety feature can keep them to avoid injuries from getting thrown around in (or ejected from) the vehicle in a collision.
Do Not Drive At Night
Especially for novice drivers, driving at night can test awareness, alertness and driving skills. According to statistics released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 42 percent of teen crash fatalities occur on weekend nights (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Restricting your teen’s driving privileges to prevent them from driving during these especially dangerous hours could keep them safer.
It is also a good idea to discuss how dangerous drowsy driving can be. A tired driver is less alert or may doze off momentarily behind the wheel. Even a momentary lapse in alertness could lead to a serious or fatal accident. If your teen must drive at night, make sure the teen understands that he or she should drive only when well-rested and alert enough to operate a vehicle safely.
Do Not Drive Under The Influence
No driver should ever operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Make sure your teen understands just how deadly of a combination this can be. You should also remind your teen of New York’s “zero tolerance” law, which makes it a crime to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as low as 0.02 percent if you are under the age of 21.
Limit The Number Of Passengers In The Vehicle
According to the URMC report, studies have shown that crash rates for teenage drivers increase by 50 percent when another teen is a passenger in the car. With three or more teen passengers, the rate jumps by 400 percent. When your teen is first learning to grasp the responsibility of driving, make sure to limit the number of passengers that he or she can have in the vehicle.
Hurt in an Accident? Contact Our Rochester Car Accident Attorneys for Help
The Rochester car accident lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP, represent people who have been hurt in accidents caused by a careless or reckless act. We are here to help you pursue answers and justice if you have suffered severe injuries or if you have lost a loved one in a crash. Let our team of aggressive trial attorneys put their experience to work for you. Our consultations are always free, and we will not collect anything unless we secure the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to learn more.