Teen Driver Safety

It is a known fact that parents worry about their teen drivers, and for good reason. According to the National Safety Council, car accidents are the leading cause of death in American teens, higher than suicides and homicides combined. Drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 have the highest accident and violation rates of any other age group. The period of highest risk is the first year after receiving a license. Teens are three times more likely to be in a crash than an experienced driver, and when there are three or more teenage passengers in the vehicle that risk quadruples. In fact, the elevated risk doesn’t significantly decrease until after the age of 25. These statistics can be startling, but it is important to teach teen drivers the rules of the road. The Allstate Foundation has shown that 80 percent of kids learn how to drive by watching their parents, which is why it’s so important to display driving best practices around your teens like leaving cell phones turned off or out of reach when driving to avoid a car accident and having to find a dependable auto crash attorney, costing you money and time you may not have.

While there are many reasons as to why teen drivers have the highest auto crash and traffic violation statistics, it all comes down to inexperience. Teen drivers lack skills that can only be acquired through time. Teens generally have poor hazard detection and low risk perception. “The ability to detect hazards in the driving environment depends upon perceptual and information-gathering skills and involves properly identifying stimuli as potential threats. It takes time for young novice drivers to acquire this ability,” according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles website. “Risk perception involves subjectively assessing the degree of threat posed by a hazard and one’s ability to deal with the threat. Young novice drivers tend to underestimate the crash risk in hazardous situations and overestimate their ability to avoid the threats they identify.”

Young drivers tend to be a bit riskier behind the wheel, as well. Overconfidence in their driving ability plays a role in behaviors such as speeding and other common moving violations like running red lights and making illegal turns. These risk-taking tendencies in conjunction with inexperience and lack of skill sometimes lead to deadly consequences. Over half of teens killed in auto crashes were not wearing their seatbelt. For whatever reason, teens do not wear seatbelts as often as adults. Make sure to stress the importance of wearing a seatbelt to your teen driver.

Anyone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is at a much greater risk of getting into an accident than a sober driver. Unfortunately crashes involving drugs and alcohol, especially fatal ones, are particularly common in teen accidents. Teens under the influence of alcohol are at a greater risk of incident than older drivers with the same blood alcohol level (BAC) because again of lack of skill and experience.

Back in June Forbes posted a list of the best used cars for teenage drivers. According to Forbes.com, “it can be challenging to find an affordable used car that’s safe, reliable and economical and won’t bust the family budget with sky-high insurance rates.” So that’s what Forbes set out to do, compose a list of vehicles fitting that bill. The number one car on their list is the Ford Taurus because, “it’s affordable, gets 20 miles per gallon or better in combined city/highway driving, is rated at average or better in annual repairs by TrueDelta.com and received a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.” Other models mentioned on the list include the Honda Accord, the Scion xB, and the Volkswagen Jetta. The full list can be viewed on Forbes.com.

Sites like Teendriving.com set out to help give new drivers tips and advice to help make the transition from passenger to driver easier. They break it down in a manner that’s easy to understand with tips that are “Simple but crucial” and the rules for when they’re “Driving around school.”  There’s even information about driving in bad weather and the rules of merging, turning and passing. All of these elements may have become so common to parents that they might forget to mention them to their teens. Be sure to give the new driver in your family all of the resources he or she may need to be a safe driver.

If your teen driver has been in an accident, you’ll need an experienced auto accident attorney to make sure that the insurance companies are cooperating with your claim. Speaking with an auto crash attorney is an important step in the recovery process and will help you get back on your feet.

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