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One of the most exciting rites of passage for a teenager is to get their driver’s license. Its important for these teen drivers to know what dangers lie ahead. But with this bit of freedom and privilege also comes an unsafe feeling of infallibility. Teens, however, are one of the most dangerous driving demographics, and the accident statistics surrounding them are frightening. Here are five things you need to know about teen drivers before you allow a newbie behind the wheel, and as you’re driving on the highway surrounded by neophyte drivers.
No matter how much time a teen has spent in driver’s ed or practicing their skills with an adult riding shotgun, it’s a simple fact that teens are not experienced drivers. They may be quicker than you, but when it comes to driving a teen’s reflexes are stunted by their ability to make the best decision in the moment. Plus, many teens believe that they are infallible. But they are more likely to crash than older drivers because they are simply not experienced enough on the roads. Teens are more likely to take risks, underestimate dangerous situations, or fail to recognize a hazardous situation. Speeding is more common among teen drivers, as is low seat belt use, and tailgating other drivers. Teens are overconfident drivers, and while this might be seen as a good trait in some respects, this bravado is what leads to bad decisions and fatal auto accidents.
Distracted driving is an epidemic, and it has hit the teen demographic quite hard. Plenty of teens live by and, sadly, some die by their smartphones. An AT&T study found that smartphone owners ages 16 to 65 are engaging in some mighty frightening behaviors behind the wheel:
To combat smartphone addiction, apps have been developed that many parents are downloading on their teen’s phone and also their own phone in order to track what their teen is doing behind the wheel. If your teen should be traveling from point A to point B, if they’re moving faster than a set speed limit, or if they’re sending texts or using their phone at all, apps like DriveMode, DriveSafe.ly, and Canary can help track this information.
The combination of teen driving and drunk driving is indeed a deadly one, but both epidemics are a reality. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35 percent of male drivers between 15 and 20 years old who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding and drinking. Teens also make the poor choice to ride with other teen drivers who have been drinking. The majority of alcohol-related teen driving accidents occur between 3 p.m. and midnight on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. All levels of blood alcohol concentration increases the risk of an auto accident for teens than for older drivers (not that older drivers should consider themselves safer to drink and drive).
The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are known as “The 100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers. Between prom, graduation parties, and summer revelry, the dangers of being on the road are at an all-time high. The CDC reports that the leading cause of death for youth in America is car accidents. Between May and August, an average of 399 teens die in traffic accidents every month, according to AAA.
Teens may be too cool for their parents, and they may act like they’re not listening to you, but they’re actually watching your every move behind the wheel, just like they have been since they were little children. Do you speed? Do you cut people off? Do you drive with one hand on the wheel? Do you text and drive? Do you neglect to wear your seatbelt? If you have a bad driving habit, don’t be surprised to find your teen doing the same thing as you. Teens with parents who they feel are good driving role models are less likely to be in an auto accident.
Your teen being on the road is a great opportunity for you to take stock of your own driving behaviors and make a vow to be a safer driver for the sake of yourself, your child, and the people with whom you share the road.
What You Can Do to Create Better Teen Drivers
If there is a teen driver in your family, initiate the conversation about safe driving habits over and over again. Most of the time, teens aren’t going to come to you with their questions – they want to be cool and have others believe they know what they’re doing. So do your parental duty and reinforce the rules: No texting and driving. No talking on the phone and driving. No smartphone usage at all while driving. No drinking and driving.
The rules may seem simple and common sense, but repeating them often and reminding your teen what’s OK and what’s not can go a long way toward your teen making the right decision when it comes to getting behind the wheel, or even getting in the passenger seat with another teen driver.
Christensen Law – The Michigan Teen Driver Accident Lawyer Who Gets Results
Your teen’s life is just beginning. Having a teen driver is an exciting time and a terrifying time, but focusing on what’s important – driving safely, using common sense, and setting a good example for your teen – can help prevent the worst from occurring. Nevertheless, if your teen has been involved in an auto accident in Michigan, or you have been in an auto accident because of a teen driver, visit veteran Michigan teen driver accident lawyer David Christensen to discuss your case.