Watching a teen transition from child to adult is a bittersweet time for a parent. It can seem like one day you are picking out dinosaur themed back-to-school clothes, and the next day they are picking out their first car!
There are so many new fears that come with your teens’ first driving lesson. While teenagers are thinking about solo trips to the beach and driving themselves to sports practice, parents are thinking of road safety and dangerous drivers, as they should be. As a personal injury attorney, I know all-too-well the risks that come with getting behind the wheel.
Teen drivers can pose a risk to others, but mostly they pose a risk to themselves. Most accidents involving teen drivers have preventable causes, including the number one factor in teen driving accidents in Washington state.
Distracted Driving Causes Accidents – But It’s Not Just Mobile Phones
Distracted driving is a major cause of all road accidents, not just for teen drivers. Research shows that distracted driving causes 8%-9% of fatal accidents each year. That’s about 3000 people nationwide.
When most people think of distracted driving, they think of mobile phones. While this is the number one cause of distracted driving, it’s not just mobile devices that lead to crashes. Really, distracted driving can be caused by eating, drinking, using car features, and even other passengers.
For teen drivers, the #1 factor in Seattle area accidents with young drivers is the presence of other passengers. Studies have shown that the presence of passengers increases the likelihood of a crash by 44% for drivers aged 15-17.
Because teens aren’t likely to perceive their friends as ‘distractions,’ they might overlook or underestimate how interacting with their friends influences their driving abilities. Some parents have taken extreme measures and forbid their teens from driving with friends at all – and that may be a wise move based on the data.
How Can We Better Prepare Teen Drivers?
Before teen drivers are allowed to drive without adult supervision, they should be made aware of the risks of distracted driving and what causes most accidents. Education on how to recognize distractions and manage multiple tasks while driving should be part of any teen driver program.
Teens should also be encouraged to practice defensive driving techniques that can help them anticipate and respond appropriately to a hazardous situation.
Parents should strive to model safe, mindful driving behavior in front of their children, as young people often emulate the habits of their parents when behind the wheel. As parents, we need to lead by example and set a good standard for our children – starting with how we drive. We should stay focused on the road, avoid distractions, obey traffic laws, always avoid drinking and driving, and maintain a safe speed. When children are exposed to safe driving habits early on, they are more likely to develop these same habits as new drivers themselves.
Additionally, parents should also consider helping their teen develop good communication skills with friends when they’re in the car. It’s important for teens to understand that it’s okay to ask their friends to quiet down or limit their actions if they feel unsafe while driving.
Join the Teens Against Distracted Driving Initiative.
At Premier Law Group, we care about keeping your teens safe. That’s why we started the initiative Teens Against Distracted Driving (TADD), spearheaded by Attorney Jason Epstein. It serves as a powerful reminder of the grave dangers of distracted driving by engaging directly with young drivers and illuminating the risks associated with such behavior. As we move forward, it’s essential to support such initiatives, ensuring our roads are safer for everyone.
For more information, go to www.teensagainstdistracteddriving.com
Data in this article is sourced from https://wsdot.wa.gov/