Last week was Teen Driver Safety Week across the nation. If you missed it, you still have time to talk to your teenager about the importance of safe driving. You don’t have to participate in a special week to remind your teenage drivers how to behave responsibly behind the wheel.
Many people believe that the best way to reach a teenager is to scare them straight. Show them pictures of frightening car wrecks, videos of fatal accidents and even have them listen to audio recordings of accidents. Experts have found that doing these things as a way to teach teenagers a lesson doesn’t often work. A teenager will shut down and stop paying attention.
Research has shown that teenagers do understand that they are vulnerable, and they are aware of the risks that driving involves. Focusing on the positive behaviors your teens should practice behind the wheel is often much more effective than trying to frighten them into behaving appropriately.
If you are looking for a topic of conversation for you and your teenage driver, we have a few ideas. Each is important and should be discussed at some point, but take it slow. You want to be sure that your teen is focused on what you are saying and not zoning out.
Distracted driving is one of the riskiest behaviors for teen drivers. For the most part, these distractions come from cell phones. Just dialing a cell phone can increase the risk of being involved in a traffic collision by three times. For drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in fatal car accidents, 19 percent were using cell phones at the time of the wreck.
Not only is cell phone use behind the wheel dangerous, it is illegal in many states. Your child could be cited for a traffic violation if they are found to be using their cell phone while driving. Many states have adopted primary laws, meaning a person can be pulled over if a law enforcement officer notices they’re using their phone. Where the laws are secondary, the person can only be ticketed for using their phone when they are first pulled over for another infraction.
Seat belts should be worn by all passengers in the vehicle at all times. This includes those riding in the backseat. Statistics show that teenagers have the lowest rate of seat belt use among any age group. It is believed that many fatalities could have been prevented if the person had been wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.
Like distracted driving, there are laws related to seat belt use on the books. These laws are present in every state. In some states, it is a primary offense, while in others it remains a secondary offense.
Teenagers often view their driver’s license as a sign of independence. They also look at their licenses as symbols of freedom. This feeling of freedom can lead to risky behaviors behind the wheel, including speeding.
Speeding has been shown to be a major factor in fatal accidents involving teenagers. Speeding itself is not typically the problem. What happens is that it takes longer to brake at faster speeds, it can be more difficult to notice hazards in the road, and it can be extremely difficult to avoid a collision.
Teenagers have been experimenting with drugs and alcohol for decades. It’s not something that is new to this generation. That said, parents should be both aware of this and discourage it. Driving under the influence of any substance impairs judgment, awareness and reaction time.
Talk to your teen about driving under the influence and give them the facts. The number of drivers on the road driving under the influence of alcohol has declined over the last decade, but those drivers impaired by other substances has increased. Despite the decline, there is one person killed due to a drunk driver every 51 minutes. Of all teens who have been involved in a fatal auto accident, 41 percent had a blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit.
These are simply talking points to help get the conversation between you and your teenager started. Use them as you see fit. You know your teenager the best, and you know what will be effective. No matter what you choose to talk about, make sure that you do talk about safe driving. Your teen listens to you more than you think.
If you or a family member has been involved in a car accident in West Palm Beach, reach out to our team of experienced accident attorneys. We will review the details of your accident to help you make the best legal decisions for your situation. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation.