teen driving

It’s August, and everyone’s heading back to school — including your teenager who has a brand-new driver’s license! This may invite some mixed feelings, as you (and most likely your teen) are relieved you no longer have to drive them to school, but at the same time you’re worried about them driving without your supervision.

This is an important topic, as many parents struggle with deciding which way is the “right” way to prepare their teenager for the open road. While there isn’t a perfect way of doing this, there are certainly ways to better educate your child on safe driving.

Getting Teens to Listen

Developmentally, older teens are wired to want to make their own decisions about what behavior is wise or unwise. But parents are still responsible, and they still carry a lot of influence. Actions speak much louder than words. Setting a good example by putting their own phones away while driving will increase the likelihood that their kids will do the same. It doesn’t hurt, either, for parents to reread the driver’s manual themselves.

Many parents set up written agreements where they set driving safety standards together with their kids. Both promise to refrain from cell phone use, to wear seat belts and to not drive while impaired. Clear consequences should be outlined if rules are broken, and they should also be enforced.

Parents also need to be patient when calling their kids and remember that if they aren’t answering their phones, they might be driving. Together, they can work on a plan of action for what to do when their driving skills are compromised. This could mean they were drinking, are tired or are sick. There should be an alternative way for them to return home or get somewhere safe. Parents should also offer assistance to ensure that their children’s vehicles are safe to drive.

More Than Phones

Because cell phones are a big problem, laws limiting or preventing their use by drivers are in the forefront, but the CDC defines distracted driving as anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off driving. Even those using hands-free phones are half as likely to see obstacles, including animals and pedestrians. Reaction time is also typically worse than a person with a blood alcohol count of .08 — the legal limit for adults.

Distractions can also come in the form of eating, looking for an object in the car, intense conversations, or emotional moments, such as following an argument.

While parents and teens can be encouraged to drive safely, crashes and injuries still happen. When they do, those responsible need to be held accountable to prevent them from causing further accidents and to compensate the injured for medical expenses, lost work, and pain and suffering. Filing an insurance claim is usually not enough to assure this. Campbell & Associates, Attorneys at Law have more than 15 years experience handling personal injury and related cases in North and South Carolina, and are ready to work diligently and efficiently to see that these cases are handled fairly, and we only enter into the time and expense of a trial when it is truly necessary. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a teen driver, contact us to set up a consultation.

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