Last Update: 12/29/15
Teen drivers can be dangerous — to themselves, to their passengers, and to other drivers who share the Florida roads with them. According to the research compiled by places like the National Institute of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading cause of death for teenagers is dying in a traffic accident. Scary, right?
In fact, the biggest risk of a car crash for any Florida driver is the risk facing a teenager when that teen begins driving. It’s understandable that newbie drivers will make mistakes. Still, those first few months of taking the wheel are not surprisingly the most dangerous for a wreck because the inexperienced teenager is learning to adjust to the real world driving experience.
How Risky Is It For A Teen Driver?
Research shows that during the first 6 months of a teenager driving a vehicle, they are EIGHT TIMES more likely to die in a fatal car accident than a more experienced driver. After six months, things do get better — but the teen driver is still at a high risk of injury in a car crash.
According to the NIH, teens are 2 to 3 times more likely to die in a fatal motor vehicle accident than older drivers with more miles on their record. This is true even after the teen has had six months driving time to master driving his car, truck, or SUV.
The risk of teenagers being hurt or killed in a traffic accident is a major problem in Florida and the rest of the country, too. In fact, public health agencies consider “teen driving” as a serious public health concern. Because studies have confirmed that teen drivers are “over-represented” in the statistics for injuries in car accidents as well as fatalities in crashes, there are continuing efforts to try and combat the danger of teenage drivers getting involved in an accident while driving a motor vehicle.
Five (5) Ways Parents Can Help Prevent Teen Car Accidents
So, given these scary research findings, how can parents fight for their children and try to minimize the likelihood that their child will become one of these alarming statistics? We’ve got five suggestions for South Florida parents and their teenagers who are driving the roads of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties here in South Florida (compiled from findings by the CDC, the NIH, and Harvard University):
1. DRIVER’S EDUCATION CLASSES
It’s important that teenagers take driver’s education classes. However, parents shouldn’t depend upon these courses as making their child a safer driver on the road. Harvard studies have shown that there’s no statistical difference in teen car accidents between teen drivers who have had Driver’s Ed and those who have not. These classes do educate teenagers on driving, but they aren’t to be considered a magic bullet to keep kids safe.
2. PARENTAL CONTROL AND OVERSIGHT
It’s important for parents to monitor and control their teenager’s driving of their vehicle. Limits need to be set up for the driver, and then these limits can be increased over time. Newbie teen drivers need time to learn how to drive as well as how to deal with risks on the road. During the first year of driving, for instance, the teen driver can be limited on the time of day they are allowed to drive, where they can drive the car (store, school, work), and what roads they can take (no major expressways).
Having passengers in the car with the newbie teen driver is asking for distraction. It’s also putting that passenger at risk of a car accident. Newbie teen drivers during their first year of driving may be better served with no passenger under the age of 25 in the car as a family rule, for instance.
Having a teen driver with a smartphone in the car beside them is asking for trouble. It’s been shown that distracted driving and texting while driving are killers and cause an unknown number of motor vehicle accidents in this country. Hands-free chat is still a huge distraction for drivers, especially dangerous for inexperienced teenagers. Insist that the phone not be turned on in the car. Consider purchasing one of the new apps or devices that blocks the use of a phone when a car is moving.
5. RULES OF THE ROAD AGREEMENT
Have a written agreement with your teenager about what their Driving Rules are — especially in their first year of driving. Have them sign it. Talk with them about the reasons behind the rules, and how the rules will change in time as they get more experience behind the wheel.
PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS AND TEEN DRIVERS
From a personal injury lawyer’s perspective, teen driver accidents are tragic cases. Lives can be permanently altered, or even ended, in a sudden car accidents involving teenagers — and both the teen and their parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and friends, suffer so much in the aftermath of that crash.
Pursuing an injury claim where a teen driver is involved is never easy, but a driver is responsible for that machine the minute they start the engine and begin to drive. Keeping kids safe and minimizing these teen driver risk factors is so important! Be careful out there.
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in a car crash, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.