January is Teen Driving Awareness Month, raising awareness for young people by highlighting the need for teen driver safety training. This is a great time to think about what parents can do to reduce the risk of accidents for the young drivers in your family.
Teens statistically become safer drivers as they gain more experience behind the wheel. The crash rate per mile driven is three times higher for teens age 16 to 17 than teens age 18 to 19.
Males ages 16 to 19 are two times more likely to be killed in motor vehicle accidents than their female counterparts. The elevated risk is typically associated with higher rates of engaging in risky behavior such as speeding and driving while intoxicated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-19 year olds in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2,270 teens ages 16-19 were killed and 221,313 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to a car accident in 2014.
Common causes for teen car accidents include:
- Distracted while driving
The serious injuries and fatalities associated with these accidents are often a result of the lack of seat belt use by teen drivers and passengers.
Often times, parents are the ones who are seriously affected by the consequences for their teen’s poor choices. These consequences may include:
- increased cost of auto insurance
- suspension of license or permit
- loss of driving privileges
- injuries or fatality
Buckle Up – Always!
It is estimated that six out of 10 drivers, ages 16 to 20, who were involved in an accident in 2011 did not wear a seat belt. While you can’t be there to ensure your teen is buckling up every time, you can still have firm rules about the consequences for failing to wear a seat belt.
Make sure to spend as much time as possible in the car when your teen first starts to drive, and you can reinforce good behavior by being a good role model yourself. Put your seatbelt on before you even turn on the car – don’t wait until you get to the end of the driveway before you buckle up your own seatbelt. Your children are watching, and their driving habits may be affected by what you do – and what you don’t do.
“Stop The Texts”
Teens learning to drive today have grown up in the digital age, spending more time looking down at their phones, texting, instant messaging and tweeting at an ever-increasing pace. Of course, being young and inexperienced, they also often believe that they are invincible, or simply unable to calculate the consequences of the risks they assume. They think they drive a car and text at the same time without a problem. Wrong.
Nearly 60 percent of teenage driving accidents today are a result of “distracted” driving. We can tell our kids that the rule is “no texting while driving.” There are even plenty of apps available to block phone calls, text messages, and notifications, as soon as the key is turned in the ignition. It might seem a bit much, but wouldn’t you rather know that your son or daughter has one less distraction while they are behind the wheel?
Restrict Driving Times And Number Of Passengers
Teen drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident at night or during the early morning hours. In fact, 16 percent of fatal car accidents involving teenage drivers occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 12 a.m. 24 percent of fatal accidents occur between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.
Another big distraction for teenagers while driving is the number of passengers in the car. Teens do not have enough behind-the-wheel experience to handle a carful of noisy friends. At least for the first year after your teen has gotten their license, limit the number of passengers allowed to one.
No Drugs Or Drinking While Driving – Ever!
One bad decision can have a deadly ripple effect that will last a lifetime and impact many innocent people. And, while there must be a strict rule against underage drinking, the reality is that teens will make mistakes. They still need to know that they can always call somebody for a ride, even if they’ve made a bad choice.
The last thing we want our children to do is get behind the wheel simply because they’re afraid of what we might do if we discover they’ve been drinking. Make sure that your kids know you will pick them up, no questions asked, in order to avoid even more serious consequences if they do decide to get behind the wheel.
Special Concerns For Teen Drivers
Accidents may happen even if parents do everything in their power to keep their teen driver safe. All it would take is one wrong decision, a brief distraction, or an error in judgement, for a teen to cause an automobile accident.
The ability to seek compensation for injuries resulting from an accident depends on who is the at-fault driver. When a teen driver is at fault in an accident, Louisiana law allows the other driver to pursue a personal injury claim against the teen’s parents under the doctrine of parental vicarious liability. However, these types of claims require that the defendant prove the parents knew or should have known that the teen had a history of unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, running red lights, or texting and driving.
A teen who is found to have only partially contributed to the accident can still collect compensation for his injuries from the other driver’s insurance company, but compensation will be reduced by percentage of fault.
Protecting Your Teen Driver’s Legal Rights
If your teen has been injured in an auto accident, seeking the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney is the best way to protect his/her legal right to compensation. A skilled attorney can negotiate on your teen’s behalf for the highest possible settlement, even if your teen was partially at fault for the accident.
Gordon & Gordon Law Firm is committed to assisting Shreveport / Bossier City drivers in resolving their personal injury claims. To learn more, please contact us for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Our lawyers are experienced in handling auto accident claims and complicated insurance concerns, especially those that may come about in the event of a teen driver’s accident or injury.