Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death of American teenagers. Most of these deaths occur when a teenager is behind the wheel. The risk is highest for sixteen year old drivers.
There are seven factors that contribute to teen accidents.
1. Inexperience – Young drivers don’t have the experience to deal with unexpected situations such as bad weather, high speeds, heavy traffic, sharp turns and the mistakes of other drivers.
2. Bravado – Young drivers like to show off, and they believe they are invincible.
3. Speeding and racing – Teen drivers have a tendency to drive too fast. Most teens admit to driving ten miles over the speed limit.
4. Drugs and alcohol – About one quarter of teen drivers involved in accidents have blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or more.
5. No seat belts – Forty-one percent of teens who die in accidents are not wearing seat belts.
6. Choices of vehicle – Teens often drive inexpensive small or older vehicles that lack many safety features.
7. Too many passengers - A teenager with three passengers faces nearly three times the risk of a fatal wreck as a teen driving alone. Even a sensible teenager will make poor decisions when encouraged by peer pressure. A teenage driver is also more likely to be distracted when there are friends in the car.
As a parent, the last thing you want is for your child to be harmed or killed in an accident. Of course, you can’t exactly ban your teenager from ever driving or getting in a car. So, the staff at Shane Smith Law has compiled these tips to help keep your teen driver safe.
Before your child gets a license, there are a few simple things that you can do to build experience and help instill good driving habits.
1. If you can, pay for extra driver’s training. High school driver’s education classes offer the minimum training for receiving a driver’s license. Many classes offer very little real time driving experience. One-on-one training with an experienced instructor can help your young driver overcome bad habits and learn what to do in various situations. Make it a Christmas gift if necessary.
2. Have your child drive you. This will let you look for bad habits and give tips. If they do anything wrong, save the discussion until you get home. Emotionally upset drivers are far more likely to be involved in an accident.
3. Talk to your child while you drive. Explain what you are doing and why.
Once your child is driving, these tips can help keep your young driver safe.
1. Make it a rule that seat belts are always worn.
2. Know who is riding with your teenager. Set a limit on passengers in the car. Remember teens with three or more passengers are three times more likely to be involved in an accident.
3. Remind your child about the risks of driving while drunk or high. Let them know you don’t approve of this behavior, but that you’ll always be available to pick them up without a lecture if they are intoxicated. Remind them not to ride with anyone who has been drinking.
4. Choose a safe car. Choose the safest car you can afford. You can check safety ratings here. Inspect tires, belts, hoses to make sure they are in good shape.
5. Keep riding with your teen. This gives you a chance to notice any bad habits as they begin.
6. Have your child share insurance and other costs. This way your teen has an investment in being a safe driver.