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.

Cell Phones and Auto Accidents

In the State of Florida, many people use cell phones while driving. Florida currently imposes no restrictions on cell phone or texting behavior in automobiles. That will change in October, but for now on any given day, another motorist may wave you at you to get your attention because you have your cell phone against your ear. Many cars also sport a “hang up and drive” bumper sticker, showing the car owner’s distaste for the use of cell phones while driving.The other driver does not trust you and for good reason.

Some people equate cell phone use with drunk driving, if only because the cell phone users are about as aware of their surroundings as an intoxicated individual behind the wheel. Cell phone users in parking lots weave around pedestrians and pull into spots without making eye contact, touching their brakes or otherwise acknowledging the presence of others. Let us face it: cell phone use is about being absorbed in communicating with someone not currently present. Cell phone users behind the wheel may be a threat to others. Study after study has demonstrated that those that are using their cell phones while they drive are more likely to suddenly slow down—that in fact those drivers that have their phone in hand almost always slow down to unsafe speeds while reading the screen. Additionally, the distraction of the cell phone leads to increases in sudden lane changes and other unsafe behaviors as drivers realize in an instant that they need to get into another lane, or make a turn, or perform some other maneuver in their car.

Some studies indicate that cell phone use while driving increases the likelihood of an accident by 400 percent. When Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a texting-while-driving act that takes effect in October, he stated that texting drivers were 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident. Tens of thousands of deaths have been attributed to cell phone use behind the wheel resulting in crashes and over a billion injuries have resulted nationwide. With a situation such as this, many states and even local jurisdictions are moving to not only craft new legislation to deal with these cases, but also strengthening the penalties on laws that already exist, since the current restrictions and their penalties don’t have the depth of effect that lawmakers hoped for when creating the legislation.

The texting while driving ban in the State of Florida that is set to go into effect in October can be brought to bear on drivers who engage in the unsafe activity, but the habit of texting is copious and widespread, according to both statistics and obvious anecdotal evidence. Accidents resulting from this behavior are not likely to slow down for years, even with states increasingly passing laws and developing stiff penalties. Who doesn’t reach for the cell phone instinctively when they receive a text, even if they are in the car? The instinct is so ingrained that many people who are otherwise very cautious and careful drivers have fallen victim to the insidious temptation of looking “just for a moment.”
Florida has no ban on hand-held cell phone use, and the ban on texting is a secondary offense, meaning a police officer will need a primary reason to pull a driver over before they can add a charge of texting in Florida. That single detail restricts law enforcement from taking phones away from drivers who are using them improperly; in some jurisdictions that are taking the law more seriously, laws may exist that allow police officers to seize the cell phone as part of a case, as well as getting phone records to prove that a text message was being sent at the time that the defendant was apprehended. On the other hand, in some instances a driver may not be charged with texting while driving until the driver is charged with vehicular homicide. In such cases, the plaintiffs need a good auto accident attorney.

When a texting driver has struck someone, the driver can be sued for gross negligence and reckless disregard or indifference of others; and if the driver is in a company vehicle, action can be taken against the company. In these cases, it can be particularly important and extremely useful to retain the services of an auto accident attorney. Judges are beginning to award punitive damages to plaintiffs in texting-while-driving cases, meaning plaintiffs can be compensated well for their pain and suffering due to the actions of the irresponsible driver.

Causes of Automobile Accidents

A car accident is often a traumatic incident for everyone involved. While some accidents are unavoidable, there are many precautions you can take to decrease the likelihood of your having to enlist an auto accident attorney, let alone dealing with possible injuries. Here are some of the things you should stay away from if you want to drive as safely as possible.

Texting has become a huge problem for those on the road. Because people are so attached to their phones now, it seems natural to continue texting while behind the wheel, but this is an extremely dangerous activity. Your eyes should be on the road at all times, and they simply can’t be if you keep glancing at your phone and typing out messages. The easiest way to avoid this issue is to leave the phone at home or keep it turned off. Even just talking on the cell phone while driving is unsafe, so resist the temptation. In addition, many states have laws on the books that make texting and talking while driving an offense that can be punished; if nothing else, it is a good idea to avoid the liability that comes with using your phone while driving, as it can contribute to a decision of fault in the case of an accident.

If possible, try not to drive with obnoxious passengers. Of course, this is not an issue that is entirely within your control, especially if you are a parent and the unruly ones are your kids. However, the more noisy and raucous your passengers are, the more likely it is that you will be distracted and miss something important on the road. If you must drive with others who are inclined to be disruptive, find ways to encourage good behavior and learn how to tune out the chatter. In the case of driving with your children as passengers, try to provide them with stimulating activities that will take up their attention during the trip, so that they do not become bored and unruly.

Any auto accident attorney can tell you that one of the most serious issues when it comes to safe driving is drinking alcohol. Despite the wide awareness of how dangerous it is to drive while under the influence, many people still do it. If you go someplace where you plan to drink, make sure that you have a designated drive or another exit strategy. For instance, have a friend drop you off at the bar and then plan to take a cab home. If your senses are impaired, you should not be driving. Even if you are not over the legal limit, your ability to accurately judge conditions around you that are important to driving safely can become compromised. And of course if you are involved in an accident while impaired, there can be even greater consequences than are typically found in car accident cases, which can seriously restrict your ability to receive compensation for injuries or damage to your own vehicle.

Finally, one of the greatest hazards in driving is doing so without a seatbelt. This strap may seem like a nuisance, leading many people to not bother with it, but it can save lives. Many people who walk away from car accidents with minor injuries learn from their doctor that they probably would have been seriously injured or killed had they not been strapped in. When this simple action that causes minimal discomfort is so capable of protecting a person from catastrophic injury, it’s sheer foolishness not to take advantage of it. Buckle up as soon as you get in the car. Additionally, do what you can to ensure that others who are riding with you use their seatbelts as well. While it may not be as easy to enforce with adult passengers as with children, try to establish firm rules for your car if it is possible and refuse to provide individuals with a ride if they will not keep their seatbelt fastened.

There are many other issues that contribute to damages and injuries in car accidents, but this list contains four of the most common ones. If you have questions about other ways to avoid an accident, get in touch with a local driver instruction program; they frequently have information available for drivers of all levels of experience that is helpful. Be vigilant in keeping yourself safe when you are on the road. If you do get into an accident, make sure to retain the services of an attorney to assist in your claims.

Car Accidents While Pregnant: What to Consider

Couples who are experiencing pregnancy are well aware of the fact that everything about their lives is going to change. From the clothes they wear to the kinds of foods that they can eat, everything must now be done in the interest of the baby to come. Everyday habits will be changing drastically for the new parents, particularly the mother—as she will have to adapt to new daily tasks and practices from the early days of her pregnancy. One area of their daily routine that couples may not immediately consider however is the fact that their approach to safety in the car must undergo some changes as well. Even before the new baby has arrived, there will need to be changes to the way that pregnant women and their partners approach their daily commute and even longer trips by car.

Vehicle safety designs are constructed with children, the elderly, and the average adult in mind. The parameters of safety devices do not often account for pregnant women. While there are some car manufacturers who use tests designed to mimic the conditions of a pregnant woman, not all of them do. Additionally, it is not as cost-efficient for companies to design safety features based on what is a temporary condition. Women who are expecting should observe some of the following precautions in order to protect the child they are nurturing in the event of an accident. Becoming aware of the dangers is the first step in protecting one’s self. Any accident, even the most minor, requires a call to the doctor right away. The injuries received in an accident—even a minor one—are not always readily apparent, and if you or someone you know is an expectant mother, early intervention is essential for avoiding potentially dire consequences. The CDC has conducted studies showing that even women who do not suffer any injuries during a car accident display a greater risk for premature deliveries.

First, pregnant women must change the way that they wear their safety belts, particularly as the pregnancy progresses. Early on, the seatbelt can typically be worn normally, and be sure to ask your doctor at what point during the pregnancy you should make changes. The shoulder portion of the belt should be placed over the collar bone while the lap belt should be positioned as low as possible. The recommended position is under the abdomen and across the upper thigh. The shoulder strap should always be worn and never placed under the arm or behind the back. This positioning allows for the best protection of the mother while also limiting risk to the developing baby. Pregnant women should also avoid driving whenever possible. The proximity of the uterus to the steering wheel presents a serious threat to the child in the event of an accident. When driving cannot be avoided, it is advised that women seat themselves at least 10 inches back from the steering wheel.

The airbags do not pose a lethal threat to the child as long as women sit as far back in the seat as possible, keeping their seat belt extremely snug. Although there are still some risks associated with this safety device for pregnant women, studies from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists conclude that the benefits of airbags in conjunction with the use of safety belts far outweigh the risk factors. Side airbags also pose little risk to the baby; still, it is not recommended that women lean on the side door panels while traveling. The largest risk to pregnant women associated with side impacts are the objects with which the car collides such as poles, trees, and other vehicles. As such, pregnant women should attempt to remain in the middle of the seat as much as possible; if you feel the need to lean, try to lean towards the middle of the car, as the risks are diminished.

Pregnant women involved in accidents due to the negligence of other drivers are prime candidates for the services of an auto accident attorney. The injuries incurred can severely complicate pregnancies and deliveries even when the damage is not readily apparent. When serious injury to the fetus or death does occur as a result of an accident, the repercussions can be devastating and the emotional distress severe. Women suffering in this way must secure the services of an auto accident attorney in order to ensure that the pain forced upon her family is justly compensated.

Auto Safety for Pets

Traveling with pets in one’s vehicle should be viewed in the same light as traveling with small children. Dogs and cats are just as susceptible to injury as young children, and the proper safety gear to protect them during a collision should be put into place by responsible pet owners. The majority of pet owners do not travel with their pets in the car very often; however, it only takes one collision, for example during a simple trip to the vet or to a local family member or friend’s house, for the damage to be done. The animal carriers that are typically used to transport pets offer no real protection for the animals in the event of an accident, and very few cars come with built-in safety features to protect our furry friends.

Some cars are much better equipped than others when it comes to pet transportation, however. Families with large numbers of pets and those who consistently bring the pets along on family vacations year after year should be very discerning in the type of vehicle that they choose. Among the highly rated vehicles in this category are SUVs and minivans. Extremely conscientious pet owners can consult the Consumer Reports website to see the details on what vehicles scored well in the pet transport rankings. It is also worth asking you veterinarian what suggestions he or she might have in this regard; many vets also do animal transport as part of their services and will have a good idea of the types of vehicles that work well for this purpose.

The majority of vehicles that will provide adequate safety and comfort for pets on the road will have some common features, including ample cargo room. Hatchbacks and station wagons tend to excel in this area. Pets also need to be able to get a good grip on the floor while the vehicle is in motion in order to avoid injury and fatigue, as well as the possibility of stress and anxiety and motion sickness. Pets generally do not have the ability to understand the movement of a car that they are inside; this can cause them to become distressed, which can be exacerbated by being unable to find purchase on the ground beneath them. Vehicles whose cargo bay is lined with plastic liners made specifically for this purpose are a big plus.

If you are forced to work with the vehicle you currently drive while trying to provide your pet with protection on the road, then there are plenty of aftermarket add-ons to consider. There are car seats that are designed specifically for cats and dogs. These devices typically tie into the seat belt mechanism, although they are often only suited for smaller animals. For larger and more rambunctious pets, take advantage of pet harnesses and restraints. These devices will allow the animal the freedom to move around their space but still provide them security in the event of an accident. There are a number of other containment products, as well as accessories that can help you keep your pet comfortable for longer trips, such as water vessels that are travel-friendly and food storage that allows the dog to eat. Large pets can pose a threat to themselves and the other passengers in a car when a collision occurs. Studies have revealed that a pet weighing up to 60 pounds can become a projectile moving with the force of 2,700 pounds at speeds of only 35 mph.

Like any other passenger in a vehicle, pets have the right to be protected from injury, especially in light of the fact that they have no control over the occurrence of accidents. Should your pet be injured in an accident that is not the owner’s fault, they can have the same protection under the law as humans when one utilizes the right auto accident attorney. The medical bills at the veterinarian’s office can pile up as quickly as those at any hospital. Many insurance companies offer pet-specific policy add-ons that can be of help, but even if you have not paid the additional charge to cover your pet, there are certain protections in place to give you peace of mind in taking care of your pet after an accident. Allow an experienced auto accident attorney to lend a helping hand when your family’s constant companion is in need. Such legal professionals have the expertise to contend with insurance companies as well as navigating the existing law regarding damages and how it may apply to your pet.

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