Handing over the car keys to your teen driver can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. Most states require novice drivers to obtain a set amount of supervised driving practice before securing their license. Teen driving accidents are not inevitable, however. The more time parents and teens spend practicing driving, the more confident the teen driver will become. Taking steps to encourage safe teen driving will help New York teenagers avoid potentially fatal car accidents.
The Dangers of Teen Driving in New York
According to the New York State Department of Health, teen drivers are more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than other drivers. In New York State, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of unintentional death and hospitalizations for 16 and 17-year-old teenagers. New York hospitals treat approximately six teenage drivers for motor vehicle-related injuries every day.
The decision-making area of a teenager’s brain is still developing at ages 16 to 18 when most teens are beginning to drive. Teenagers are more likely to engage in risky behavior when driving. They also drive more frequently under high risk conditions, such as driving without a seatbelt and night driving. Finally, teenagers are also more likely to not recognize dangerous situations due to their inexperience in driving. The leading causes of fatal car crashes involving teen drivers include the following:
- Driving negligently fast under the conditions
- Driver inexperience
- Distracted driving
- Driving while drowsy or under the influence of alcohol
Help Your Teen Gain Supervised Experience Driving
Most teen driving accidents are not caused by a teenager driving recklessly, contrary to popular belief. According to the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, approximately half of all teen driving accidents happened due to driver error. The following driving errors often take place due to a lack of driving experience on the part of teen drivers:
- Poor scanning skills that lead to a failure to see dangerous conditions in a timely manner
- Driving too fast for dangerous road conditions, even when driving below the speed limit
- Drivers who are overly distracted, due to inexperience
Sign the Teenager Up for a Comprehensive Driver’s Training Course
Many companies offer driver training courses to teenage drivers. These courses provide helpful additional training to new drivers. These driving instructors have helped thousands of new teenage drivers learn how to drive. According to New York law, New York teens must take a driver education course or a pre-licensing course approved by the DMV. Most commercial driving schools provide licensed courses. In addition to preventing car accidents, requiring a teen to take a commercial driving course can often reduce car insurance prices for cars driven by the teen. Parents should look for the following characteristics when choosing a commercial driving school:
- The driving school has reasonable teacher to student ratios
- The driving school requires its instructors to complete ongoing education
- The driving school should have good reviews and customer satisfaction ratings
- The driving school should be a member of relevant professional associations
Ensure the Teen Meets New York’s Graduated Driver’s Licensing Laws
Under New York state law, teens must obtain initial driving experience by supervised drivers. The goal of these laws is to ensure that teenagers have lots of practice driving in low-risk conditions so they will be more prepared to drive in higher-risk conditions. According to the New York State Department of Health, Graduating Driver Licensing Laws decrease crashes for 16 and 17-year-old drivers by 80%.
New York’s Graduated License Law restricts drivers under the age of 18. Drivers who have a junior driver’s license or a junior learner permit must abide by certain restrictions. New York drivers with a junior learner permit are only allowed to drive while being supervised. Drivers who do not comply with the restrictions face suspension or revocation of their license for 60 days.
Set Rules and Monitor Teen Driving
Approximately 30% of teenage driver deaths occur during the summer months of June, July, and August. New York teenagers are more likely to be killed or severely injured in a motor vehicle accident during the summer. It is wise for parents to set limits on when teenagers drive. Setting a driving curfew could prevent teens from driving when overtired. Teenagers should also know that wearing a seatbelt is mandatory and that driving while distracted on a cell phone or electronic device is prohibited. Parents who are actively involved and set boundaries regarding their teenager’s driving can reduce the risk of a crash by 50%.
Driving boundaries can include the following:
- Do not use a cell phone to text or talk while driving
- Only use a cell phone while driving in the case of emergencies
- Always wear a seatbelt and require all passengers to wear a seatbelt
- Abide by all Graduated Licensing Law restrictions set by the state of New York
- Call for help if the driver is in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation
- Obey the posted speed limits at all times
- Never engage in street racing, driving recklessly, or aggressively
- The driver should be aware of road conditions
Set a Good Example for Teen Drivers
Actions often speak louder than words. Parents should understand that their teenagers are always watching them. Parents should avoid using a cell phone while driving. As challenging as it is not to multitask in the car, it is essential to show teenagers how important it is to drive without distraction. A driver taking his or her eyes off of the road for a mere three seconds can cause a motor vehicle accident to occur.
The Attorneys at Pulvers Thompson can Help
When motor vehicle accidents involving teenage drivers happen, it is essential to contact a skilled personal injury attorney. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, our New York car accident injury attorneys can help. Contact our law firm today to learn how we can assist you.