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Is Your Teen Driver Road Ready?

June 2, 2021 | by Sarah P. Rera
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Summer is almost here, making it the perfect time to talk to your teen drivers about road safety

Each summer, thousands of newly-minted teen drivers take to the roads across New York State. They have completed the rite of passage and earned their driver’s license. But, having a license and being prepared for the challenges they will face on the road are two different things. Passing a written test gives you facts and information, but it takes real world driving experience to properly apply that knowledge and hone your driving skills.
 
My colleagues and I have handled many auto accident cases involving teen drivers where a lack of experience played a primary role in the crash. I hope you and your teen driver never need my services. That is why I want to share some preventative information for you to consider as you help your teen navigate the roadways of New York.
 
First, if you are worried about handing over the keys to your teen driver, that fear is well-founded. Statistically, teen drivers face an increased risk of being involved in an accident. Teen drivers age 16-17 are:
 
3.9  times more likely to be in a car crash than drivers 18 and older
4.5 times more likely to be in a car crash than drivers 35 and older
2.6 times more likely to die in a car crash than drivers 18 and older
 
Those statistics aren’t meant to scare you, they are simply to show the importance of working with your teen driver on road safety. Too many parents think the driving lessons end when the DMV issues the license.
 
Distracted Driving
Too often the least experienced drivers are the most distracted on the road. Chief among those distractions are cell phones. Many teens have been so conditioned to immediately react when their phone pings with a notification, it is almost reflexive. That can lead to deadly accidents. In addition to talking to your teen about the dangers of distracted driving, you can take a proactive approach. There are many different apps that can be installed on your child’s phone to minimize the chances they text while driving. The American Safety Council covers several of the most popular apps here.
 
Safety Belts
The data is overwhelming, seat belts save lives –lots of them. Unfortunately, teen drivers have the lowest seat belt use among drivers. Sixty percent of teen drivers killed in car accidents are not wearing their seat belts.
 
First and foremost, parents can and should model safety by always wearing your seat belt and making it a reinforced talking point with your teen driver. There are also vehicles that have features that won’t allow the driver to shift out of park until the seat belt is fastened. You can see one example of that technology here.
 
Speeding
Driving fast is a huge temptation for teen drivers. It can also be deadly. Speed is a factor in more than 30 percent of all fatal accidents involving teen drivers. Once again, modeling good driving habits is critical, and talking with your teen about the danger is important. But, not surprisingly, there are many apps out there to give a parent a peek into their teen’s driving style. Not only can these apps register speed, they can detect hard braking and other dangerous driving maneuvers. You’ll find examples of these apps here.
 
Your child getting his or her drivers’ license is a thrilling time. It can also be nerve-racking. But through good communication, setting a strong example, and taking advantage of the wealth of technology available, you can help keep your teen safe behind the wheel.  And, if you should ever need the assistance of a personal injury attorney, I am here to answer any questions you have.
 
Sarah Rera is a litigation attorney with Gross Shuman P.C. who focuses her practice in the areas of personal injury and business litigation. She has served as trial counsel in multiple complex business disputes and personal injury claims in New York State Supreme Court, receiving numerous successful verdicts for her clients. She is also an experienced appellate practitioner and has appeared before the Appellate Division and the New York Court of Appeals, the highest Court in New York. She can be reached at 716-854-4300 ext. 289 or srera@gross-shuman.com.