If you are a parent, you know full well that bestowing the keys to the car upon your child can be a concerning experience. While it may be parents’ job to worry about the safety of their children, being concerned about a new and inexperienced driver is fully justified. After all, insurance rates are higher for teens and young drivers because insurance providers know the data and how often new drivers are involved in wrecks.
Car accidents are among the leading causes of preventable injury and death for people of all ages, and especially so among teens and younger drivers. Because of this, it is important that you ensure your child understands the risks and responsibilities of driving, and that they know how to avoid common mistakes and negligent acts that can place themselves and others at risk.
Operating a vehicle safely is the legal duty for anyone who steps behind the wheel, and even experienced drivers cause accidents when they are negligent. If you have a son or daughter who is learning to drive, or even if you or your child could use some reminders about common mistakes to avoid, consider the following:
- Using cell phones – Cell phone use and text messaging causes thousands of preventable injuries and deaths nationwide every year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that cell phone use is a concern for every motorist, and especially so for younger drivers, as they are more inclined to text or use cell phones behind the wheel due to their impulsivity and lack of experience. Remind your novice driver about the devastating consequences of texting or using their phone behind the wheel, or look into apps that prevent them from using a phone when a vehicle is in motion. You should also remind them that texting or using a phone is also illegal, as Oklahoma law prohibits the use of handheld devices by drivers with learner’s permits or an intermediate license, and bans text messaging for drivers of all ages.
- Distraction – Texting and using a cell phone are not the only forms of distraction. Teens can also fall victim to distractions caused by passengers, adjusting music, grooming and personal hygiene, and more. These distractions, combined with texting and cell phone use, play a role in roughly 1 out of every 10 fatal accidents involving teen drivers, according to NHTSA. Remind your novice driver that distractions can wait, and that anytime they are behind the wheel, safety and vigilance should be priorities.
- Speeding – Inexperienced drivers have still yet to learn how to gauge their speed, make adjustments according to different conditions, and judge how long it will take to stop safely. Impulsiveness and a young attitude can also make young drivers more inclined to speed. Younger drivers should always obey speed limit laws, especially in adverse conditions, poor weather, and school or construction zones. While their reflexes may be sharp, that may not be enough to make up for risky behaviors and excessive speed.
- Impairment – Even though we know driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs kills thousands of Americans each year, drunk driving accidents and drugged driving accidents still happen all the time. You need to ensure your child understands the risks involved in getting behind the wheel impaired; risks that can forever change the scope of their lives and the lives of others. Oklahoma law implements a zero tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21 when it comes to alcohol and drugs, and having any amount of alcohol or drugs in one’s system can lead to criminal consequences and driver’s license suspension. Make sure your novice driver pledges to never drive drunk or impaired, and that they know about safer alternatives if they find themselves under the influence and in need of a ride.
- Risky behaviors – When learning to drive and encountering new situations on the road, younger drivers may be quicker to take unnecessary risks. This includes pulling out into traffic when they are unsure if the coast is clear, failing to check their surroundings and blind spots before making a move, following too closely, and not using turn signals. Newer drivers need to understand that these risks can lead to accidents and injuries, and that every precaution should be taken before any move on the road is made.
Even when newer drivers remain vigilant, obey traffic laws, and make safety a priority, wrecks can still occur when others are negligence. When this happens, you can trust in our award-winning Oklahoma City car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Dan Davis to help protect your legal right to compensation. Learn more about how we can help by calling (405) 531-9983 for a free consultation.