One of the most unnerving points in a parent’s life is when his or her teenage child begins to drive. Unfortunately, there is good reason for this concern: Statistics show that teen driving accidents are common in New Jersey and across the country.
As a parent, you should talk to your teen about the risks they face and discuss dangerous driving habits they should avoid. You should also learn more about laws that are aimed at making teens safer on the road.
Risks Faced by Teen Drivers
Vehicle-related accidents are the leading cause of death among teens in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), young drivers (those between the ages of 15 and 20) account for six percent (12.6 million) of the country’s total number of licensed drivers. In the latest year of reporting:
- 1,875 young drivers lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents
- 184,000 young drivers sustained injuries in crashes
- 4,283 young drivers were involved in accidents that led to fatalities.
Dangerous Driving Habits Teens May Adopt
For many reasons, including the exhilaration they experience upon driving for the first time, teens are susceptible to dangerous driving habits.
These habits cause teen drivers to be a danger to themselves and others on the road. The types of dangerous driving teens may engage in include:
- Talking on hand-held or hands-free cell phones while driving
- Drinking and driving
- Driving without wearing a seatbelt
- Adjusting the radio
- Making changes to in-vehicle navigation systems
- Eating while driving
- Taking “selfies” or attempting to post to social media while driving.
These are not the only dangerous driving habits which can put teen drivers directly in harm’s way. Other factors in teen driving accidents are:
- A lack of defensive driving training
- Inability to recognize potentially hazardous situations
- Driving with other teen passengers
- Driving at night
- Driving while tired or drowsy
- Engaging in risky driving behavior at the encouragement of their peers.
The bottom line is that any time a teen driver takes his or her eyes off the road, hands off the wheel or attention off the task of driving, the driver and many other lives may be put at risk.
What Is Being Done to Make Teen Drivers Safer?
Fortunately, each state has enacted Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws which allow new, inexperienced drivers to gradually earn their driving privileges. This way, a teen driver can minimize his or her risk of being involved in a crash.
Under New Jersey’s GDL program, teen drivers must go through a three-stage process before they can become fully licensed:
Additionally, in New Jersey, drivers with learner’s permits or probationary licenses who are under age 21 cannot use any electronic device – hand-held or hands-free – while driving.
Parental involvement is essential to teen driving safety. When parents set a good example for their teen driver, he or she will be more likely to adopt safe driving habits. Parents can set this good example by following the rules of the road, practicing defensive driving, never using electronic devices behind the wheel or driving after drinking. They can also always wear a seatbelt.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving a teen driver, you should contact an attorney without delay in order to protect your right to just compensation. Call Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., at 1-800-LAW-2000 or submit our online form to receive a free consultation.