With school and universities back in session, the fall months are sure to see a spike in the number of young and novice drivers on the road. Due to their inexperience, and perhaps their proclivity for risk taking, teens and young adult drivers face some of the greatest risks for accidents of anyone on public roads. If you have a new driver on your hands, it becomes important to ensure they know these risks and how to avoid them.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving has continued to drive the number of preventable deaths on U.S. roadways upwards by alarming rates. According to experts, texting and cell phone use are largely to blame. With teens and young adults being constantly plugged in to their phones, it’s important to remind new drivers that texting or using a cell phone is a negligent act that can come with life-changing consequences. In Texas, it is also against the law if a driver is under 18.
- Passengers – Distracted driving can include more than text messaging and using cell phones. It can also include conversing or interacting with passengers. This is why Texas prohibits teen drivers with provisional licenses to drive with more than one passenger in the vehicle under 21 (unless they are a family member). Teens may be more inclined to become involved in distractions when friends are in the vehicle, which is why parents should take the time to establish rules or ensure their teen driver understands that safely operating a vehicle should be their only and most important task.
- Impairment – Teens and some young adults may not be old enough to consume alcohol, but that has done little to stop the many young drivers who harm themselves and others in drunk driving accidents. Texas has a zero tolerance DWI policy for minor drivers for a reason, and parents need to ensure their child understands both the criminal risks, and the consequences of accidents that can injure and kill others. Make ground rules with your child, and ensure they know that driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and even prescription medications should simply never happen. For parents who may be more open, it’s worth discussing alternatives for safer rides to ensure that a young adult is making responsible decisions when faced with the prospect of getting behind the wheel while impaired.
- Risk-taking – Risk taking and being young may go hand in hand, but it can be devastating behind the wheel. Teens should always understand that speed limits exist for a reason, and that they need to adjust their speed given certain conditions, including an increase in traffic, school or construction zones, parking lots, and other areas where slower speeds reduce risks of wrecks. Additionally, it is important for new drivers to understand that they should always scan their surroundings prior to pulling out into traffic, making a turn, or changing lanes.
At Scott H. Palmer, P.C., our Addison, TX personal injury attorneys know that even when young drivers make every effort to drive safely and responsibly, they can still suffer harm when others are negligent. Our legal team represents victims, including teen drivers, who have been harmed in car accidents caused by the negligence of other drivers. If you have a potential case to discuss, contact us for a consultation.