Heightened Awareness of Risks for Teen Drivers During Spring Event Season
It’s that time again of the year for prom and upcoming graduation parties! These are benchmarks of progression toward adulthood and responsibility. Another important benchmark for many teens is getting their driver’s license and beginning a lifetime of driving. Driving a car can be one of the most dangerous activities in which we participate and we each often forget the level of responsibility it requires.
Likewise, parents often spend many hours worrying about their teen drivers due to their inexperience and the behaviors of other drivers.
Combine inexperienced drivers (by age 18, one still has limited time behind the wheel) with distracted, reckless or impaired driving and you have a recipe for a car crash. Teen traffic fatalities increase in spring and specifically during prom season. See “Beware of the 100 Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers”
Driving a Car–Responsibility for Life
As teens take on many new responsibilities in the process of becoming adults, driving is usually a big indicator of independence and progression toward adulthood. It’s a rite of passage for many teens and a often a stressful one for parents.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving fatalities in people under the age of 21, per population of 100,000 people, has decreased by 49 percent. In 1982, when the statistics first started being collected, fatal crashes involving drivers under the age of 21 was at a record high of 80 percent or 5,215 teens compared to 10 percent or 1,021 teens in 2015.
While the numbers are moving in a more safe direction, it is by no means a solved problem. According to the CDC, every single day, six teens die in a car accidents. In almost all of these fatal crashes, the true horror is that most are preventable.
Teen Crash Prevention
According to the CDC, the first year after receiving a license is the most dangerous year in a person’s driving career. This makes sense as young drivers are less experienced. It is also a time when a young driver may add risks to an already risky situation while engaging in dangerous behaviors such as distracted driving, impaired driving, or speeding.
As parents, we have to look at what we can do to help our teens avoid the below risks:
- Drunk, impaired or drowsy driving. Parents, teach your teen to always be well-rested before they drive anywhere and never let them drive if you see they are fatigued. Learn all you can about impaired driving and teens and teach by example by never drinking and driving.
Texting, eating, drinking, music and passenger distractions. Parents can set up rules for limiting the number of passengers in their teen’s car. Follow the local teen laws or restrict your child to have one or no passengers at all.
- Lead by example. Distracted driving through the use of a handheld phones continue to be leading cause for teen’s driving distraction and distraction for all drivers. As a parent, be sure you are not texting or on social media while you drive and strictly forbid this behavior for your teen.
- Includes speeding, lack of seatbelt, crossing lanes and not driving according to road conditions. As a parent,
- Be sure your teen is mature enough to adhere to speed limits and follow the rules of the road.
- Be sure your teen knows that “racing” of any kind is dangerous and not tolerated.
- Lead by example and follow the rules of the road yourself.
- Spend time teaching your teen how to drive. Spend time teaching them when and how to appropriately change lanes, keep a safe following distance and prepare them for unexpected braking. Parents may spend many, many months driving with their teen for varying lengths of time in order to expose them to many different scenarios.
- Insist on seat belt usage. Seatbelt usage in Missouri is still quite below the national average. Not only is it the law, but seatbelts save lives.
Not having enough time on the road can be a common problem for younger drivers. As a parent, not only are you just riding around with your teen but you are monitoring their progress and making sure they have a variety of safe driving experiences.
- Practice on varying types of roads and conditions are important. As well, various road conditions need to be encountered in the day and night hours.
- Time. Experts say the minimum time for a new driver to have practice assisted time is 30-50 hours over the course of six months. Some parts of the country allow for more practice driving opposed to busy metropolitan traffic.
- Teaching. Parents need to constantly remind teens to stay focused on the road and signs, to be alert for potential dangers, other motorists, and train crossings.
Parent-Teen Contract or Agreement
Some experts advocated for a parent-teen contract to be certain your teen understands their driving limits and expectations. Rules are easier to follow when we know the rules upfront. Several organizations offer resources to help you start the parent-teen driving agreement:
CDC Parent-Teen Driving Agreement– Center for Disease Control
New Driver Deal– Offered by the National Safety Council, the GM Foundation, The National Road Safety Foundation and Volkswagen.
SAAD Contract for Life– Provided by the Students Against Destructive Decisions
Prepare Teens for the Possibility of a Motor Vehicle Crash
While your teen may be driving very responsibly, they will need to know what to do if they are in a motor vehicle collision. Often, adults don’t know exactly what to do after a crash, so a review may be helpful for you and your teen.
Just as we plan for house and school fires by developing fire escape plans, you should have a plan in case of a crash.
We offer a free iPhone and Droid app “Injury Attorney” that lists the steps of information to collect and provides resources such as towing services, local medical facilities and cab services:
- 1. Call 911 or the police immediately.
The minutes you spend getting out of the car and walking over to find out if others are okay may turn out to be the few minutes that saves someone’s life. Younger drivers are hesitant to call the police, but you should ALWAYS do so. The crash has happened, thus making responsible decisions going forward is crucial. Officers and first responders are there to save lives and document the crash –both of these things may make a huge difference in someone’s life and in filing an injury claim.
2. If able, gather information from the other driver(s) and take photos of the vehicles at the crash site.
Be certain that the conditions at the site allow you to photograph safely. Obviously, don’t get out on a busy interstate to take photos. Wait for the police to arrive so the area can be secured.
3. Seek immediate medical treatment for any symptoms.
If you have pain, seek immediate medical treatment. Often, people will assume they are not hurt if no bones are obviously broken. However, some injuries such as head injuries can become life-threatening if left untreated. Pain is a symptom that all is not well physically and you should seek medical treatment.
Take Care of Yourself First, Then Call an Car Crash Attorney
I always tell people to take care of themselves first and foremost medically. Do what is best for your body and recovery before ever thinking about talking to any insurance company about your injuries. A car crash that causes physical injury can be complicated for an adult, let alone a teen driver.
At The Cagle Law Firm, we know how important those first few days and weeks after a car crash are and how overwhelming it can be when you discover you have an injury. It is not a process you have to take on by yourself. Our attorneys are available seven days a week for free consultations.