Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among U.S. teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), six teens ages 16 to 19 die each and every day from motor vehicle accidents. But like car wrecks involving adults, teen motor vehicle crashes are also preventable; and proven strategies can improve the safety of young drivers on the road and their survivability. Driving means freedom for teens, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re always safe. Many teens find themselves in danger on the road simply because they lack experience behind the wheel. National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW – October 15-21) offers an opportunity to help our young drivers to develop and refine a few key safety habits, which includes avoiding the No. 1 killer of teens in car wrecks – distracted driving.
Research continues to show that teens accept that they are vulnerable while on the road and are acutely aware of the many driving risks that affect their safety – even if only in the abstract. One of the major factors which increases the possibility of a crash is impaired driving. This includes not only alcohol or drug use, but also distraction, fatigue and strong emotions. Below are topics for discussion, addressing many of the safety issues teen drivers face.
1) When driving, try to keep your smartphone off – Multiple studies indicate using a cell phone — even a hands-free phone — while driving is the equivalent of driving drunk. Yes, it’s hard. But when you’re first learning to drive, do you really need this dangerous distraction?
2) Minimize Distractions – When driving with friends, it’s tempting to eat, drink, dial-up music and play it loudly while you’re cruising. But if it causes your mind to wander or distracts your eyes from the road, that’s unsafe. Research shows that inexperienced drivers are more likely to lose control of their car. Distractions can decrease your awareness of impending danger and your ability to control the vehicle when you are surprised.
4) Don’t Text – Research shows texting causes a loss of focus on the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 60 mph, that’s the length of a football field. A lot can go wrong in that small space when your eyes are off the road. Besides, effective September 1, texting while driving is now illegal in Texas.
5) Obey the Speed Limit – Speeding is another prime cause of fatal teen accidents. This rings especially true when driving on roads with lots of traffic or that you might not know. Sometimes we all feel pressured to keep up with traffic flow when it feels like everyone is flying by. Driving at a safe speed helps ensure the wellbeing of you and your passengers and helps you avoid costly traffic tickets and expensive increases in your auto insurance.
7) Practice Defensive Driving – Being aware of the traffic ahead, behind, and next to you, and having possible escape routes in mind is the foundation for defensive driving. This takes developing a feel for driving relative to other cars, and it takes time. But developing defensive driving habits keeps all drivers safe; and if you take a defensive driving course, you get a discount on your insurance!
To schedule a free consultation with the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant, contact us today by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call at 1 (800) 444-5000 or locally in the Houston area at (713) 973-8888.