Car crashes are the number one killer of teens. The younger the teen, the higher the rate of car crashes. Teenage brains are still developing and as a result teens tend to be impulsive and use poor judgment. Poor decisions often include drinking and driving or texting and driving, two of the most risky behaviors when getting behind the wheel.
How Do We Protect Teen Drivers?
Graduated licensing is a highly successful idea and has been implemented in many states: it allows teens to gain driving experience under certain restrictions while they work toward getting their full license. The law is different from state to state but often includes restrictions such as:
- the number of passengers
- the age of passengers
- a minimum number of supervised driving hours with a parent or driving professional
- nighttime driving
- zero alcohol limits
Teen deaths from car accidents have dropped 62 percent since 1975 and graduated licensing is given a lot of the credit as studies have shown a clear link between these programs and lowered crash rates.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) website has a calculator that estimates how many lives could be saved if states strengthened their graduated licensing laws. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers incentives like extra highway safety funds to states that improve their graduated licensing laws.
If your state has poor graduated licensing laws, consider creating your own contract with your teenager. Talk to your teen about the risks of driving while intoxicated or distracted. Help them understand that while they are learning it is best to be alone in the car or with one adult and avoid driving at night.
Technology like Ford’s MyKey is also proving helpful in reducing teen accidents. MyKey allows parents to set the driving rules and store them electronically in the ignition key. Features that can be controlled include the vehicle’s top speed, the volume of the radio, or even whether the radio can be turned on until the driver’s seat belt is secured.
Driver education in the form of advanced driver training can help reduce teen car crashes. When drivers are taught what to do when they are faced with an emergency they are more likely to avoid a car accident. There are many defensive driving courses available through public and private organizations such as the Tire Rack Street Survival School. These courses help teens to improve their driving skills, gain confidence, and learn the limits of their cars.
What to Look for in Car for a Teenager
If you are buying a car for your teen you may be deciding what you can afford versus what is safest. You should be looking for a vehicle that has advanced safety features like electronic stability control and third-generation air bags. Read consumer reports for a vehicle that has performed well in independent crash tests. Avoid a large truck or SUV because their high center of gravity makes them more prone to a roll over. Other disadvantages to a large vehicle include poor handling, poor fuel economy and more passenger seating which is just asking to be filled with distracting teen passengers. Sports cars are too tempting to drive fast. Choose a modest car with the best possible safety features.
If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident, do not hesitate to seek the help of a knowledgeable car accident attorney. The insurance companies are there to pay you the lowest settlement possible; it is not uncommon that a victim who hires an accident lawyer receives up to three times the settlement of someone who fights alone. Please call the caring, experienced accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. today for a FREE consultation.