Every year thousands of teens die in traffic accidents—often as a result of their excessive speed, lack of experience, or inattention. Although National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 15 – 21, 2017, now that the school year is underway, it is important to learn the best ways to keep your young driver safe.
Research shows that while teenagers understand the risks that affect safety, many still engage in dangerous driving behavior. In fact, during the first month of unsupervised driving, they are 50 percent more likely to be involved in an auto accident and twice as likely after driving for two years, according to reports. However, when parents set rules, impose driving restrictions, and monitor their teen’s driving in a helpful and supportive way, kids are less likely to engage in risky driving and are involved in fewer crashes.
To be as prepared as possible, parents should devote time to talk to their kids about safe driving and being a safe passenger. Remind them that driving is a privilege and not a right. If your child is not mature enough to handle the responsibility and follow the rules of the road, then he/she should not be behind the wheel.
For those with a teenager driving to school this year, discuss these risk factors and safety tips to keep your young driver safe on the road.
Seat Belt Use
Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip. Seat belt use has been proven to reduce serious crash-related injuries by as much as 50 percent, yet only 61% of teens report always wearing their seatbelt.
Distracted driving is commonly a result of cell phone use. While the phone should be off-limits when behind the wheel, there are many more distractions to avoid. Eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, changing music, or using a navigation system, all cause drivers to take eyes off the road. Also, the more passengers there are in a vehicle, the greater the risk of an accident.
Teens are notorious for speeding and shortening the distance between themselves and the driver in front of them. Talk to your kids about always following the speed limit and maintaining a safety distance from the car in front of them.
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.
Get a good night’s sleep
Teenagers are the most sleep-deprived group today, and drowsy driving causes more than 1,500 deaths per year. Fatigue can decrease your reaction time, impair vision or judgment, and increase the chances of getting into an accident. Encourage your teen to get plenty of sleep.
Follow the 10-minute rule
Encourage your teen to leave early to avoid dangerous driving decisions. Running late for school causes young drivers to drive faster, tailgate, and weave through traffic.
Watch out for school buses and pedestrians
Drivers should always yield to school buses when they are merging or turning. Remind your teen to slow done in school and bus zones and always watch for students crossing.
Stay Cool, Steer Clear
Teens should avoid strong emotions, such as stress, frustration, and anger. Additionally, remind your young driver that if he/she meets an aggressive driver on the road, the best thing to do is simply move out of their way, and let the other vehicle pass.
Underestimating Dangerous Situations
Bad weather conditions, roadway construction, or poor nighttime visibility are all good reasons to slow down and exercise caution. However, teen drivers regularly underestimate the risks of these hazards, and often make critical errors that would not have been made by a more experienced driver.
Preparing your teen with the knowledge and training needed for on-the-road safety at all times, will help ensure their safety and reduce your worries. Remember, too, that your kids learn from your behavior so it is equally important to model safe driving habits.
Mark Bello has practiced law for 40 years. He is currently the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company. “Betrayal of Faith” is currently available on major online bookstore sites. Please watch for “Betrayal of Justice“, scheduled for release in late summer, early fall. And, for more information on its release and associated activities and events, please join our mailing list for future updates.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.