Driving is one of the most liberating milestones in a teenager’s life. As a young driver, having a pair of keys in hand, friends by your side and the freedom to go anywhere, anytime is unrivaled. But while teens are focused on a new flashy set of wheels and people to share it with, teenage drivers actually account for more automobile accidents than any other age group.
In fact, the greatest lifetime chance of crashing occurs in the first 6 months after licensure. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teen drivers are more at risk of being in a car crash during their first year or 1,000 miles of driving. In 2011, teen drivers had crash rates 3 times higher than drivers 20 years of age or older. At 16-years-old, drivers are 15 times more likely to get into an accident than drivers with 4-8 years of driving experience.
So tell your teen it’s time to turn down the EDM, put on their seatbelt and focus on the road.
Below are our top 5 tips for keeping your teen safe in 2014 and the years to come.
1. Limit the number of passengers
When you’re older, driving has one main purpose: to get you from point A to point B. When you’re a teen, driving is a luxury, an adventure and a social event. However, having friends join in on the fun can be putting your teen in extreme danger. Teen drivers aged 15-17 years with two or more passengers in their cars have a nearly eight-fold increased risk of having a fatal accident than when they drive alone. In 2012, studies showed when teenage drivers have teenage passengers with them, they engage in more risky driving behaviors such as speeding, swerving, straying from their lane, running a red light and maintaining shorter following distances. As many as 71% of male teen drivers and just shy of half of female drivers admit they get distracted with friends. In fact, male teen drivers with teenage passengers are twice as likely to engage in aggressive driving and nearly 6 times more likely to pull off a dangerous driving maneuver than when driving alone.
2. Keep them off their cell phone
This obviously isn’t the first time you’ve heard this one, but that’s because it can’t be stressed enough. Whether it’s talking on the phone, texting, looking at directions or updating their latest “selfie” photo in the car, any type of interaction with a cell phone while driving is a distraction. In 2011, 21% of drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes were distracted by the use of cell phones. Text messaging makes a crash up to 23 times more likely. For those teens who have the “it won’t happen to me” mentality engraved into their heads, think about this: sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eye from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which at 55 mph is equivalent to driving the length of a football field. In 2013, texting and driving became illegal in Florida as a secondary offense. Over 4,500 accidents in Florida last year were attributed to drivers being distracted by their cell phones or other electronic communication devices. While a ticket should be consequence enough, most consequences because of cell phone use while driving are unfortunately much worse.
3. Adjust their attitude
Your teen’s attitude alone can sometimes be more dangerous than their driving skills. Whether road rage or a sense of invincibility, teens often like to think they know everything. And while you may receive the “I’m not a little kid any more” attitude, it’s vital they are aware that anything can happen on the road. Talk to your teen and open the lines of communication about safe driving. Regardless of the groans and eye-rolls you may receive, remind them that their license is a privilege, one that can easily be taken away by you or the State of Florida.
4. Make sure they obey ALL the rules
It seems for teens, the rules of the road can get slightly blurred in those first few years. It’s important to constantly reinforce that a yellow light does not mean speed up, a stop sign does not mean slowly roll through, a 60 mph speed limit doesn’t actually mean 70 mph, and about Florida’s seat belts laws for teens. Crash risk for teens increase incrementally with each mile per hour over the speed limit. Teens might not realize the importance of these simple rules in their early years. In fact, during adolescence the brain hasn’t yet fully developed to weigh the consequences of risk taking, meaning they might not be as good at identifying dangerous situations while driving. Don’t rely only on driver education books or courses. Review the rules of the road with them until it becomes second nature.
5. Set a positive example
The biggest influence on how your teen drives is you. Almost two-thirds of high school teens say their parents talk or text on the phone while driving, don’t wear a seatbelt, or speed. Being a responsible, safe driver sets a good example for your teen before they are even of age to drive. Always buckle up, follow the speed limit, hold back from road rage, and of course, don’t text and drive. While you might think you’re experienced enough to bend the rules, it could easily influence your teen to do the same.
There are some things that are out of our control when it comes to driving, such as weather or vehicle malfunction, but an overwhelming 75% of serious teen crashes are due to “critical errors.” The three most common errors accounting for nearly half of those crashes include:
·Scanning the road ahead needed to detect and respond to hazards
·Going too fast for road conditions
·Being distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle
Teach your teen about proper driving and begin 2014 the right way - the safe way.
Read here to learn more about why accidents increase over the holidays or call 888-975-1110 for your free case consultation if you or your teen has been involved in a car accident to speak with injury attorney, Mike Hancock. Our phones are answered 24/7. Or email Mike with your legal questions.