How can Inexperienced Teen Drivers Stay Safe Behind the Wheel?

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If someone has a teenager who is learning how to drive, it is natural to have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, the parent will no longer need to shuttle their teenager to and from soccer practice, music lessons, dentist appointments, or to meet up with friends at the mall. However, this creates a new set of worries for parents every time the teen leaves the house. According to a recent survey by Safe Kids Worldwide, car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens. This is a sobering statistic, particularly because many of these accidents can be prevented if teen drivers make safety a priority and avoid unsafe driving behaviors. Research also found that parents’ driving behaviors have a significant impact on the way teen drivers behave behind the wheel.

There are several reasons why teen drivers are at an increased risk for being in a serious car accident. Teen drivers lack experience behind the wheel. When this is combined with the fact that teens also tend to be immature, impulsive, and easily distracted, the consequences can be devastating. Even the most responsible teen drivers lack the judgment and ability to anticipate and react to a wide range of traffic scenarios that comes only with experience. Unfortunately, teens are also more likely to engage in unsafe behavior while driving, including talking on their phones, reading or sending text messages, checking social media, and talking to other friends in the car. Oftentimes, they are not wearing their seat belts while engaging in this behavior, which can lead to serious injuries if they are involved in a car accident.

Teen Driving Statistics

There are millions of teen drivers on the road at any given moment, which means that car accidents are likely to happen. The following statistics highlight the seriousness of this problem:

  • Teen drivers are 10 times more likely to be fatally injured in car accidents compared to adult drivers.
  • Most fatal teen car accidents occur within six months of the teenager getting his or her driver’s license.
  • Two-thirds of teen passenger fatalities occur when a teen driver is behind the wheel.
  • One-third of all teen car accidents occur at intersections.
  • Close to one-third of fatal teen car accidents involve speeding.
  • Eight percent of all fatal car accidents involve teen drivers.
  • Roughly 60 percent of teens involved in fatal car accidents were not wearing their seat belts.
  • Over half of all fatal teen car accidents occur over the weekend.
  • A quarter of all fatal teen car accidents involve drunk driving.
  • Approximately 1.6 million car accidents are caused by texting and driving.
  • Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause a car accident than drunk driving.
  • Over half of teen drivers admit that they talk on the phone while driving.
  • Approximately 35 percent of teen drivers do not wear their seat belts on a regular basis.
  • Teen drivers are less likely to recognize hazardous situations and react in a safe way.
  • Over 50 percent of car accidents caused by drowsy driving involve teen drivers.
  • Roughly 90 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal car accidents were distracted by other passengers in the vehicle.
  • According to a study by the Center for Research and Policy at Johns Hopkins University, the more passengers there are in a vehicle, the greater the risk of fatal injuries for teen drivers.

What can Parents Do to Keep Their Teen Drivers Safe?

There are several things parents of a newly licensed teen driver can do to prevent their child from being involved in a serious car accident, including the following:

  • Set a good example. If parents expect their children to obey the rules of the road and practice safe driving habits, it is the parents’ responsibility to set a good example when their children are in the car with them. Adult drivers must obey the speed limit, leaving a safe distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them, and put the cell phone out of reach while driving.
  • Sign the teen driver up for a drivers’ education course. The more experience a new driver has behind the wheel, the better he or she will be able to react to a range of situations. Behind-the-wheel training courses teach new drivers about the car’s controls. The child’s driving instructor will discuss the importance of visual awareness and make sure that there are no hazards on the road ahead. Before driving, a teen driver will learn about vehicle positioning. For example, he or she will always be taught to maintain a safe following distance.
  • Drive a newer car if possible. Today’s vehicles come equipped with advanced safety technology that is not available in many older vehicles. Parents should make sure their teen driver is using a vehicle that is equipped certain technology, such as automatic emergency braking systems, blind-spot detection, and lane departure warning systems, which can prevent accidents or cause them to be less serious.
  • Arrange for teen safety features and technology to be installed. There is technology available that can limit the vehicle’s speed, restrict volume levels, and track the vehicle’s location. Some vehicles offer this technology as a standard feature.
  • Buckle up. Drivers must always wear their seat belt. If a teen driver sees that a parent is not wearing a seat belt, he or she may think it is okay to drive without buckling up. Unfortunately, over half of all teenagers who were fatally injured in car accidents were not wearing their seat belt at the time of the crash.
  • Talk to teens about the dangers of drunk driving. Parents should have a constructive conversation with their teen about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and that they should never get behind the wheel if they are under the influence. If the teen had too much to drink, they should call a parent to provide a safe ride home.

What Safety Tips Should Teen Drivers Follow?

Getting a driver’s license is a big responsibility, one that should not be taken lightly. Although there is a new-found independence associated with getting a driver’s license, safety should always be a top priority, particularly because teen drivers are at an increased risk for serious accidents. The following are safety tips that all teen drivers should follow when they are behind the wheel:

  • Follow the rules of the road. Teens should always stay alert and aware of their surroundings, obey the speed limit, wear their seat belt, and make safety a priority. New drivers must avoid swerving in and out of lanes, tailgating, cutting off other drivers, or passing a vehicle if it is not safe.
  • Allow extra travel time. If a driver is rushing, they may be more likely to speed, tailgate, or engage in other unsafe driving behaviors.
  • Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle. The more passengers in the car, the more likely it is that the driver will become distracted. For inexperienced teen drivers, the risk of a fatal car accident roughly doubles with the addition of each passenger.
  • Put the phone away. Drivers should leave their phone in the glove compartment when driving. If the phone is needed for directions, it is best to use a hands-free device that follows current Maryland cell phone laws.
  • Limit nighttime driving. There is a significant increase in serious car accidents after dark, particularly between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m. Drowsy driving can also become a serious problem when driving at night. It can cause impairments that are similar to drunk driving. If a driver feels tired, they should avoid driving until they are able to catch up on sleep.
  • Keep an emergency kit in the car. Depending on where drivers live and where they typically drive, the contents of an emergency kit may change. However, it should always include the following:
    – Jumper cables
    – Blanket
    – Water
    – Cell phone charger
    – Flashlight with extra batteries
    – First aid kit
    – Road flares or triangle reflectors
    – Tools, including a screwdriver, wrench, plier, and pocket knife
  • Avoid driving during inclement weather. Inexperience combined with unsafe road conditions can result in a devastating car accident involving serious injuries or fatalities. A new driver should stay home, wait for the weather to clear up, or ask an experienced adult driver to take them where they need to go.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims Injured by Teen Drivers

If you were seriously injured in a car accident involving a teen driver, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will help you navigate the claims process and ensure that your legal rights are protected. Our dedicated team will work tirelessly to secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.