School Year Driving Reminders for Your Teen
Back to school congested roads mixed with excited yet inexperienced, distracted, lack of seat belt using operators who have riskier driving habits like speeding, school zones are naturally the home of a driving disaster waiting to happen for many of Kentucky’s teens. In fact, the number of young drivers involved in fatal crashes continue to increase more than 10 percent from previous years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) crash data and the start of a new school year is often a trigger for numbers to hike. The motor vehicle accident lawyers at Rhoads & Rhoads have pulled together a bit more information on why that trend exists as well as some helpful tips for parents to review with their teen drivers as their daily commute to school begins across the Bluegrass.
Three Main Factors in Crashes Involving Teen Drivers
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has identified three main trends that commonly result in serious or deadly crashes for teen drivers:
- Distraction: More than 50 percent of serious teen crashes are now believed to be caused by distractions. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smart phone, including texting or using an app. We will talk more about distracted driving further into this post.
- Not Buckling Up: More than 60 percent of teen drivers killed in crashes were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash. Kentucky is still behind in seat belt usage. Encourage your teen to change this deadly trend.
- Speeding: Most driving instructors conclude that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive. In addition, speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers.
Parents Can Help Educate Their Teen Driver on Safe Driving Practices
Although safety officials have been urging parents to play an active role in helping prevent serious car and truck accidents by getting more involved and talking to their teens about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel, the truth is, the conversation isn’t happening enough. Parents need to help reduce the prevalence of tragic accidents and ultimately assist in saving lives by coaching their teens to slow down, ignore distractions, and to avoid all temptations that point to making bad choices while driving. This includes speeding, texting while driving, and driving impaired by drugs and alcohol.
Let the new start of a productive school year be a reminder to review our resources and recommendations on how to stay actively involved in coaching teens with these tips.
- Facilitate regular conversations and reminders about the dangers of speeding and distracted driving.
- Take the time to practice driving with your teen in varying conditions including in congested, parking lot traffic that mimics that of a school zone.
- Create and enforce a parent-teen driving agreement that sets rules for the road and explains the consequences of making poor driving choices like driving impaired, disobeying traffic laws, or causing an accident.
Lastly, be a good driver example and minimize your own distractions and poor driving behaviors when you are driving your children. This can help show them what the right choices while operating a motor vehicle look like.
Distracted Driving Causes More Than Half of All Teen Crashes
Nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve some form of distraction, including texting or phone use within three seconds before the accident. Teen drivers, as well as all others including parents, should avoid these known distractions to keep everyone on the road safe from a serious injury or accident-related fatality.
- Adjusting Audio or Climate Controls
- Cellphone Use or Texting
- Eating or Drinking
- Generally Distracted or “Lost in Thought”
- Moving Objects
- Outside Person, Object or Event
- Passengers or Pets
- Using Devices or Vehicle Controls
- Using or Reaching for a Device
In addition, we have put together three easy distracted driving strategies you can help your teen driver with.
- Ditch Their Phone (GASP!)
Although you may not believe it would really happen, demand your teen driver put their phone in a spot like the trunk, or in the backseat inside their bookbag. This way they will have to think twice before using it because they will not have access it. This simple daily habit may encourage them to perform the act all year long and hopefully for the rest of their driving life.
- Keep Them Organized (and Fed)
Before they hit the road, make sure they have had their breakfast. This way they aren’t rushing or focusing on eating that muffin on their way to school. Another way to keep them organized is to teach them to keep any driving or school day items they might need, such as sunglasses or athletic gear, in an easy to access spot. The better organized they are inside their vehicle, the less they’ll have to take their eyes off the road to search for items.
- Enable Their Phone’s Do Not Disturb Feature
Most phones today have a Do Not Disturb feature that will disable texting, send an automated text response, and hold calls while driving. Turn it on for your teen!
It’s the time of year it makes sense to share this safe driving article with others on your social channels or through a text to remind your teen about the importance of making good driving choices.
Contact Rhoads & Rhoads Motor Vehicle Injury Attorneys
If your child has been involved in a school zone related auto accident or you have been injured because of a distracted driver, we want to help. The car accident legal team at Rhoads & Rhoads offers free initial consultations, and all cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. With offices in Owensboro and Madisonville, Rhoads & Rhoads attorneys are also available and ready to fight for the families of wrongful death victims throughout Western Kentucky.
Call us at 888-709-9329 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys.