Safe Driving Habits All Teens Should Know

Summer is here and with school out, that means that more teens will be driving regardless of increasing gasoline prices that show no signs of abating. In Massachusetts and across the nation, this also unfortunately means more car accidents and fatalities. However, with parents guiding their teens and providing examples of safe driving, teens can avoid risky driving behavior that robs us of so many young and promising lives. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, parents are the biggest influencers on teen driving behavior. They can take advantage of their authority and influence by reviewing and stressing 5 tips on safe driving habits for teens.

  1. No Cellphones—Parents can attest that when they began driving, cell phones were just an idea in some Silicon Valley entrepreneur’s head. But since they have become minicomputers with cameras and other applications, smartphones are an essential tool for most teens in and out of cars. Massachusetts law bans the use of any hand-held devices but also no texting, sending emails, or reading messages though adults can make calls on hands-free devices. Drivers up to the age of 17 are absolutely barred from any use of a cell phone, hand-held or not. Distracted driving, which primarily means cellphone use, accounts for 11% of fatal accidents for those between 15 and 19 years of age. As a parent, set an example by turning off your phone while driving. If you need to take a call or send one, pull off to a mall or park and do it there. Emphasize to your teen how dangerous any use of a smartphone is while driving.
  2. No Extra Passengers—Novice drivers are prohibited from driving with passengers under the age of 18 for the initial 6-months of getting their license unless a licensed person over 21 accompanies them in the front seat. Having one passenger doubles a teen’s risk of an accident while two passengers triples it, and 3 or more increases the odds by more than six times, which strongly indicates that passengers are just too distracting. Siblings are an exception. However, parents need to emphasize that no passengers other than themselves should be a passenger until more than 6-months has passed and they have shown they can safely handle a car.
  3. No Speeding—Speed may be the biggest factor in teen accidents and fatalities. As a new driver, the temptation to speed is great but must be tempered by parental involvement and education demonstrating how dangerous it is to speed under any circumstances. From 2015 to 2019, about one-third of crashes with teen drivers involved speed. Immaturity and lack of skills and experience are mostly to blame. Once again, parents are hugely influential in stressing how speeding greatly reduces perception/reaction time and can lead to life-altering injuries if not death.
  4. No Alcohol—The drinking age is 21, but a substantial percentage of teens indulge in drinking. While it is unlawful for drivers 21 and over to drive with a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of 0.08%, no amount of alcohol is permitted for those under 21. Immaturity and lack of experience make even small amounts of alcohol for teens a risky proposition since just being a teen increases their risk of an accident by 3 times that for adult drivers. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that drinking among teen drivers makes them 17 times more likely to be in an accident. As a parent, you should tell your teen to never get in a car with a driver who has been drinking. If they were drinking or are unable to get a ride with a sober driver, encourage them to call you or a ride-share instead of risking an accident, and that they will not be punished as a consequence.
  5. Never Drive Without a Seat Belt—Massachusetts is one of the worst states for seat belt use for some reason. This may change since a seat belt violation is now a primary offense here, allowing police to pull you over for simply not wearing a seatbelt. Wearing a seat belt substantially reduces your risk of going through a windshield or being ejected from a vehicle in a crash. Parents need to stress how vital it is to wear a seat belt as a driver and passenger. Nearly half of those killed in car accidents across the U.S. were not restrained. By wearing a seat belt, you reduce the risk of suffering a serious injury by 50%, and of being a fatality statistic by 45%.

These simple tips can drastically reduce the chances that your teen will be injured or killed in a car accident, but it takes an effort by all parents to become involved in their teen’s driving experience. Even once they get their license, continue to accompany them and to set a good example yourself at all times. 

Damages in Teen Car Accident Injury Claims

Of course, teens are not responsible for all accidents and are often victims themselves, especially if they are passengers in cars driven by drivers under 18 or 21. An experienced car accident attorney can advise you regarding liability issues, insurance coverage, and how damages are calculated. 

Damages in a typical car accident injury claim include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future income losses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Permanent disability and disfigurement
  • Emotional distress
  • Spousal claim for loss of consortium (unlikely for a teen accident victim)

Retain a Car Accident Attorney from Burns and Jain 

Any car accident injury claim should only be handled by a seasoned and veteran car accident attorney. At Burns and Jain, our attorneys have been handling car accident claims for decades, regardless of the issues and complexities involved . Call us at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation about your injury claim.

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