Do you know the leading cause of death for teenagers? Car accidents. About six teenagers die in car crashes each day.
Do you know the main reason for teen car wrecks? Driver inexperience.
Teens haven’t been driving long enough to develop a history of experience to draw upon when making split-second judgements as they drive. New drivers may encounter a brand-new traffic situation every time they drive. That is, a situation they have not been in before, which means they have not had the opportunity to practice good judgement in that scenario.
Experienced drivers know how to apply experience from one traffic situation to a completely different one. Over time, drivers understand how to spot other drivers who are distracted, a car that is turning against a light, debris in the road—and know how to safely maneuver around such situations. But imagine if it is your first time coming upon a bag of trash in the middle of your lane, you have cars behind you, and the oncoming lane has a steady flow of traffic. If you have never encountered that before, you may know what to do, particularly if that decision must be made within seconds.
One way to save the lives of teen drivers is to help them learn in safe environments. The month of May is devoted to increasing youth safety in vehicles and promoting safe teen driving. National Youth Traffic Safety Month is an awareness campaign created by a partnership between The Allstate Foundation and the National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE).
One of SAVE’s strategies to increase teen driving safety is to acknowledge the importance of peers in teens’ lives. Teens and their friends have one of the most vital roles in preventing car accidents. Attorneys for car accident victims can attest to the influence that peers have on teen driving habits. For example, groups of teens together tend to take more risks than teens individually. That is a key reason that in California, in the first year that a teen drives, the teen cannot carry passengers under the age of 20 unless an adult is in the car who is at least 25 years old and has a valid driver license.
All drivers, including teens, have impaired judgement when their full attention is not on the road. Selecting and changing music, grooming, eating, talking on the phone, and looking at any kind of electronic screen are all risk factors for car accidents. For inexperienced drivers, the risk of distracted driving combines with the risks inherent in their lack of experience, making for a potentially deadly combination. That is why teens in California who are younger than 18 are prohibited from using any kind of wireless electronic device, even one that can be operated “hands-free.”
While peers play an important part in teens’ lives, the influence of parents should not be under-estimated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an entire campaign devoted to the role of parents in teen driver safety: “Parents are the Key.” Materials produced by the CDC include parent-teen driver agreements and tips for encouraging teens to use seat belts, obey the speed limit and focus on driving (not friends, phones and other things). Parents’ driving habits influence teen driving behavior more than most parents realize—the old adage that “children see, children do” is very true when it comes to driving—if parents wear seatbelts and avoid cell phone use while driving, their children are more likely to do so.
Over the month of May, take time to talk to your teen about safe driving habits. Spend time in the car with your teen and your teen’s friends who are driving. Watch and listen to how they make decisions. As you drive, make sure you are modeling behavior you want your teen to demonstrate while driving.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car crash, call the car accident attorneys
at Cerritos Legal today at 562-865-9356 for your free consultation.