Although eager to get their license, many teens do not yet have the experience to safely control a motor vehicle. In addition to general inexperience, teenagers are prone to distractions, which take their eyes off the road and possibly their hands off the steering wheel. At Powers & Santola, LLP, our New York personal injury lawyers are focused on public safety. We know how exciting it is for a teen to first get their license and head out on the road alone. This is a rite of passage for most families. However, parents can still make sure their teens are focused on the task at hand. In this article, we review how parents can reduce teen driver distraction and why they should call our firm if their child is injured in a crash.
Model Safe Driving Habits for Your Children
Parents might not like to hear this, but their teenagers learn a lot simply by studying our behavior as parents. Do you whip out a cell phone and talk on the phone or send a text while driving? Have you eaten a bowl of soup or had a conversation with someone in the back seat? Do you rubberneck cars pulled over to the side of the road? If so, you are modeling for your children that this is acceptable behavior when behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
Parents can start early by eliminating distractions when they drive. This will signal to your teen that they should also drive devoid of distractions.
- Pull over before taking a phone call
- Store your phone in your jacket or the glove compartment
- Restrain your pets properly for long trips so they don’t spring into the front of the car
- Never eat and drive, even if you are hungry
- Don’t unnecessarily fiddle with dials or GPS devices
Tell Your Teen to Lock Up Their Phone
It’s the rare teenager who is not always constantly on their phones. Many teens have downloaded apps so they can keep a constant tag on where their friends are at all hours of the day. The temptation to whip out a phone and start using it while driving is intense.
You can help your teen by having them lock up the phone in the trunk of the car. Why not leave it at home? Well, they might need the phone to call you in the event of an emergency. That’s why it goes into the trunk of the car. If they just put it in the glove compartment box, then they can reach over and pull it out or have a friend retrieve it, which defeats the purpose of storing it. Lock it in the trunk for safe keeping.
Install an App on Your Child’s Phone
So locking a phone in the trunk sounds extreme and you doubt your teen will agree to that. So what else can you do? Why not put technology to use! There are apps you can download that will shut your child’s phone off while the vehicle is in motion. This way, the phone stays close to your child but it’s inoperable while driving.
There are now many apps on the market like this, including DriveMode app. Some apps also allow drivers to earn rewards for safe driving, which can make following the law fun.
Limit Friends Riding in the Car with Your Teen
Friends are a major source of distraction. It’s common for teens to egg each other on. A teen riding shotgun might also have a phone and start talking excitedly about some text message they received. It’s only natural your teen will look over to see the message, even if they are driving.
Reduce the source of distraction by limiting who your teen drives with. You can have them only drive alone, at least for the first year, and especially at night. The risks from distracted driving increase when visibility is reduced by nightfall.
Helpfully, New York state has restrictions on junior driver licenses. In Upstate New York, for example, a junior driver can only drive unsupervised from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm. They can also have no more than one passenger under the age of 21 with them, unless they are immediate members of the family. Between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am, a person with a junior driver license can drive unsupervised only from home to their school or place of employment—that’s it.
New York City and Long Island have different restrictions, but all of them are helpful at reducing distraction and accidents. Make sure your child follows the law and understands that they can lose their license if they don’t.
Ride with Your Child
Even after your child gets a license, you can continue to ride with them. This will let you observe up close whether they are engaging in distracting behaviors. Ask them to drive you to the grocery store or to a fast food place in the afternoon. Teens tend to develop bad habits, and you can help break them early.
Take Out the Radio
Noise is an underappreciated source of distraction. When teens play music very loud, they can’t hear other traffic signals, like someone tapping the horn to notify your teen of their location. Loud music has been shown to increase the risks of an accident, so why not make sure your teen has a used car with a malfunctioning radio?
Contact Our New York Personal Injury Lawyers
Even the safest drivers get into accidents. If your child was hurt, contact Powers & Santola, LLP today. We will review if they can bring a lawsuit. Do not be surprised if the other driver tries to blame your teen for any collision. They might rely on the stereotype that teens are easily distracted to avoid liability for the crash. Our legal team will carefully review all pieces of evidence to fully understand what happened and who is really to blame. Where appropriate, we can help your family sue the at-fault driver for the collision if your child suffered serious injuries.