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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Lawsuit Financial Encourages Its Readers To Support National Teen Driver Safety Week

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Teens today are busier than ever. They go to school, work, and often participate in many sports or other extracurricular activities. They are also more engaged in the latest technology. Unfortunately, this leads to more distractions, especially while driving.

Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for 14-18 year olds in the US. In fact, in 2013, there were 2,614 teen (15-19 year old) passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes and an estimated 130,000 were injured. Yet, a recent survey shows that only 25% of parents have had a serious talk with their kids about the key components of driving.

To help raise awareness, encourage safe teen driving, and seek solutions to prevent teen deaths or serious injuries on our roadways, Congress established the third week in October as National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW). This year, NTDSW takes place October 18-24, 2015; the theme is “Avoid the Regret, Avoid Impaired Driving.”

Research shows that teens understand the risks that affect safety, yet many still engage in dangerous driving behavior. Impaired driving is not limited to alcohol and drug use; it also includes distractions – calls, texts, radio, passengers, etc., fatigue and strong emotions, such as stress, frustration, and anger. Teens also tend to speed, drive aggressively and fail to wear a seatbelt.

Although driving is an important step towards independence, a parent’s job does not stop there. Surveys show that teens whose parents impose driving restrictions typically engage in less risky driving and are involved in fewer crashes. Teen Driver Safety week helps teens understand why it’s important to make good decisions behind the wheel, but parents need to play an important role in conveying this message.

Research shows that teens whose parents set rules and monitor their driving in a helpful and supportive way are less likely to be involved in an auto accident. It is important that parents are as prepared as possible to take on the important task of teaching their children how to safely navigate the first years of driving, including closely monitoring their teens as they begin driving alone. When a teen is ready to take the road alone, a parents’ job does not stop there. It is important to continue taking an active role by talking about your teen’s driving habits and discussing the “5 to Drive” campaign.

No drinking and driving. Remind your teen that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and driving should never mix no matter your age.

No driving or riding without a seat belt. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, no matter how far or how fast.

No cell phone use or texting while driving. Remind your teen about the dangers of texting or dialing while driving, and that the phone is off-limits when they are on the road.

No speeding. Require your teen to follow the speed limit. Explain that every time his/her speed doubles, stopping distance quadruples.

No extra passengers. With each passenger in the vehicle, your teen’s risk of a fatal crash goes up. Know your State’s graduated driver licensing (GDL) restrictions and enforce them.

Kids can’t listen if you don’t talk! Even if you think your teen has tuned you out, keep repeating these powerful messages; they will get through. Remember, too, that teens learn from your behavior so it is equally important to model safe driving habits.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.