Handing the keys over to a teen driver is a milestone in both a child’s and parent’s life. For children, it means more freedom and the ability to hit the road and get to new places. For parents, it can be downright frightening – and for good reason. Insurance companies know the data on teen drivers, which is why premiums for newer motorists is often higher, especially in faster cars. Statistics from the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) also show that auto accidents are the leading cause of fatalities among American teenagers.
Teens simply don’t have much experience behind the wheel, and are more prone to making mistakes critical enough to cause accidents. As they learn to conduct themselves as adults, they may also be prone to impulsivity and other behaviors that can prove dangerous when they are operating a motor vehicle.
At Shook & Stone, we have handled numerous car accident cases for clients around Las Vegas and the state of Nevada since 1997. These include cases where teen drivers were injured as the result of another’s negligence and, unfortunately, cases where victims were harmed in preventable accidents as the result of a teen driver’s mistakes and conduct.
If your son or daughter is learning how to drive or has just recently received their license, it is critical to instill in them the risks and responsibilities that come with driving a car. Driving safely and not posing unreasonable risks to others on the road is a legal obligation for everyone who gets behind the wheel, and you should speak candidly with your new driver about how their decisions, and how negligence and careless acts, can have serious repercussions on their lives and the lives of others. Remember, driver education begins at home.
To help you better understand some of the most pressing risks for teen drivers and how to discuss with your son or daughter what they need to be aware of and avoid, we have put together the following list:
- Distraction – Teens have grown up in a modern world filled with digital devices, entertainment, and the constant lure of distractions. While using a cell phone is perhaps one of the most well-known forms of distraction, all types of distraction have the ability to led to accidents, as they take can take a motorist’s visual, physical, and mental attention away from the primary task of driving. Distraction can be especially concerning for novice drivers who don’t have much experience in various traffic situations. Make sure your teen knows that driving should always be the primary task when they are on the road, and that anything they feel they need to do can wait until they are safely parked or out of their vehicles. These distractions include using digital devices, adjusting music, conversing with passengers, eating or drinking, and personal grooming, among others.
- Texting and Cell Phones – Text messaging and cell phone use are the most concerning forms of distraction for teens. Teens text frequently, and may feel compelled to read or reply to messages when driving. Unfortunately, doing so substantially increases crash risks, as drivers may not see their surroundings, be thinking of something else, and / or be using their hands to operate a phone. Speak with your child about the devastating repercussions of texting and using a cell phone behind the wheel – it’s the cause of thousands of injuries and deaths every year. You should also make sure that they know it is illegal. Nevada prohibits handheld cell phone use and text messaging for all drivers! Some tech companies have also developed apps to help parents monitor and even prevent cell phone use by their kids when they are driving.
- Drunk and Drugged Driving – Driver impairment has long been a scourge on our roadways, causing preventable injuries and deaths and devastating thousands of lives each year. Your teen is not of drinking age, which means there are serious criminal consequences if they are caught driving under the influence of any alcohol or drug, including marijuana, prescription medications, and even over the country drugs that impact their ability to safely operate a vehicle. Speak openly with your child about the risks of drunk driving and teach them that it should simply never happen. Even if your child is under the legal drinking age, you should make sure they know of safer alternatives, including designated drivers, taxis or rideshare services, or even a call to mom and dad.
- Speeding – Teens may lack the experience to accurately gauge their speed or travel at a safe speed for given conditions. They may also enjoy the thrill of going fast. Because speeding can be deadly, especially when an inexperienced teen is behind the wheel, you need to teach your child about driving at a reasonable speed until they feel comfortable approaching the speed limit. You should also discuss certain situations that require adjustments in speed, such as heavy traffic, poor weather and road conditions, school and construction zones, and more.
- Unsafe Risks – There are a number of mistakes teens make when it comes to unsafe risks, and they all involve driving behaviors that elevate risks of crashes. Theses include following vehicles too closely, braking too late, not giving others the right of way, unsafe lane changes, and failing to scan their surroundings when approaching intersections or making turns. Teens may also be prone to making driving moves, such as pulling out into traffic, when they are not fully aware if the coast is clear. Make sure your son or daughter knows the risks and why it is so important to avoid them.
Even when your son or daughter takes the right steps to operating a vehicle safely, accidents can still happen, especially if another driver or another party is negligent. In these situations, our team of Las Vegas auto accident attorneys at Shook & Stone can help you and your child understand your legal right to compensation and how we can help you pursue a recovery of damages through the personal injury legal process.
To discuss a recent accident during a FREE consultation, contact us today.