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Teens + cars = accident waiting to happen?

What parents can do to reduce the risks

Teenagers are the most crash-prone drivers - four times as much as older drivers. That's why it costs so much to insure a new driver in the family. But do you know why teens have more accidents? It's not necessarily drinking, speeding and texting, although those risky behaviors certainly add to the statistics.

Here's a closer look at situations and contributing factors in serious teenager car accidents ... and what parents can do to prevent a tragedy:

  • Inexperience - 1 in 5 teenage drivers will have an accident within their first year of driving. Driver's Ed class is not enough. Teach your kid to drive. More behind-the-wheel hours with a parent directly correlates to fewer accidents for new drivers. The Florida Department of High way Safety and Motor Vehicles found that defensive driving courses reduced crash rates by more than 75 percent.
  • Distractions - Texting while driving is proven to be as dangerous as drunk driving, in terms of slowed reactions and veering out of one's lane. Merely talking on a cell phone increases the crash risk. Phones should stay in a pocket, purse or glove compartment while driving. Anything that diverts the eyes, hands or mind adds to the risk. Concentration is a driving skill that can be taught.
  • Passengers - Other teenagers in the car is highly distracting. Studies show that each additional passenger raises the crash risk exponentially for young drivers. North Carolina law allows teens to have just one non-family passenger during the first six months of licensure. Many parents go a step further - no friends in the car, period, for the first 6 or 12 months.
  • Peer pressure - Teens don't like to rock the boat. In surveys, many youths admit to getting into a car with a driver who has been drinking, and fewer than half say they would speak up about a driver's risky behavior. Teach your youth to draw the line and give them an "out" from an unsafe situation - a standing offer to pick them up, no questions asked.
  • Seat belts - Auto accidents are the leading cause of teenage deaths. In all too many of these fatalities, wearing a seat belt would have spared lives. Kids with involved parents are far more likely to buckle up. Are you modeling safe behavior by wearing yours EVERY TIME?
  • Nights and weekends - Teens want to be out and about on Friday and Saturday nights, which unfortunately are the most dangerous times to drive. More than half of crashes occur on weekends. The prime hours for teen accidents are 6 to 9 p.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight. Take your learner driving at night, and when they get their license trade the keys for a curfew.

"The Call" that no parent wants to get

Teen crashes are not inevitable. As parents, you can reduce the risks by taking your kid driving, setting boundaries and reinforcing messages. If your worst fears do come true and your son or daughter is injured in a car accident, naturally your first concern is their health and welfare. After medical treatment, you should talk to an attorney.

Collisions are not always the teenager's fault. The other party or the police may unfairly put all the blame on your child, which in turn could limit or negate compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer will protect your child's rights as a driver or passenger in a car accident and guide you through the legal process.

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77 McCachern Blvd., SE
Suite #3
Concord, NC 28025

Phone: 704-706-9308
Phone: 704-490-4054
Fax: 704-782-0912

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