This is National Teen Driver Safety Week. It is a great time for parents to review traffic safety with your teen, even if they haven't started driving yet.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic crashes are a leading cause of death for teens 15 to 18 years old. In 2017, 755 teen drivers died in traffic crashes. A total of 2,038 teen drivers were involved in crashes where someone died.
Let your teen driver know, as a driver, bicyclist or pedestrian, obeying the Rules of the Road is a must. Also, keep in mind, that young people often model their parents' driving habits, so set a good example! Here are some safety tips to help:
Wear seat belts on every trip. Over half of the passengers killed in cars driven by teen drivers were not wearing seat belts. Injuries to drivers and passengers, even in serious accidents, are often less severe when seat belts are worn.
No drunk or drugged driving. Driving drunk or high at any age is unacceptable and illegal. The penalties and consequences are extremely severe. Have a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving and drugged driving. It's always better to take a cab, get a ride from a sober friend or get a ride from your parent, than to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
No distractions. Approximately 10% of all teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in recent years were distracted at the time of the crash.
No speeding. Almost one-third of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding in 2017. Faster speeds deprive drivers of the extra reaction time they need to avoid a crash. Always obey posted speed limits and reduce speed in bad visibility or weather conditions.
Limit extra passengers. Teen drivers are at greater risk of a crash when they have others in the car. Passengers can serve as distractions. That is why many states have imposed graduated driving license restrictions for teen drivers.
No tailgating. Tailgating or following too closely is a leading cause of injuries on our roads. It is a dangerous practice which endangers the driver's life and the lives of others on the road. Warn your teen to never tailgate and set a good example by leaving enough distance in front of the car you are following when you drive.
Following these safe driving tips and the rules of the road will lead to good driving habits that will help your teen avoid accidents and serious injuries. Remember, the best driving is defensive driving.
For more information about traffic safety, including more safe driving tips, contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www.nhtsa.gov. Stay safe out there!
Attorney Polich is an experienced trial lawyer at Lawton & Cates. He has been handling personal injury and traffic cases on behalf of traffic crash victims for over 20 years.