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National Teen Driver Safety Week

Five ways to prevent teen car accidents

Today marks the start of National Teen Driver Safety Week.

This is not just another meaningless day or week created by some politician.  As a lawyer, there is nothing more tragic than helping the family of a child or teen who has been seriously hurt in a car accident.  And as of 2010 (the latest data available), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths in this age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, in 2009, eight teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.

I’m not sharing this information to scare already crazy parents. I want to help protect you and prevent teen driving car accidents, and this  issue is sadly very real and very tragic.   It is happening all around us.

Teen drivers also have some dangerous habits that tend to exacerbate these statistics.  Many teens tend to have an invincible, untouchable feeling – which is very bad behind the wheel. While they’re aware of some driving dangers (like drinking and driving), they may not realize the risks of other distractions and behaviors, such as distracted driving, driving with other teen passengers, fatigued driving, speeding and cell phone use. Lack of experience is also a big issue. It’s important for all of us to teach teen drivers the laws and the  safety tips that will keep them from becoming involved in crashes.

Distracted Driving & Teen Drivers – An infographic by the team at Michigan Auto Law

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Distracted Driving & Teen Drivers – An infographic by the team at Michigan Auto Law

 

This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is focusing on a multi-tier approach to preventing teen car accidents:

1. Increasing seat belt use: Teens buckle up far less than adults do. Seat belt use among teens and young adults (16 to 24 years old) was at 80 percent in 2008 – the lowest of any age group. In fact, more than half (56%) of young people 16 to 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were unbuckled in 2009.

2. Implementing graduated driver licensing: Young, inexperienced drivers, usually 16- to 17-year-olds, are in fatal crashes more than most age groups. Studies show that immaturity and inexperience are primary factors contributing to these deadly crashes by young drivers. But GDL laws address these factors by reducing high-risk exposure for teen drivers. Michigan now has Graduated Driving Laws.

3. Reducing teens’ access to alcohol: Teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related car accident than the overall population, despite the fact they cannot legally purchase or publicly possess alcohol in any state. High-visibility enforcement of underage purchase and possession laws can reduce underage drinking and decrease alcohol-related crashes.

4. Parental responsibility: It’s not just good parenting, it’s a matter of life and death. When your teen begins driving, it’s best to set rules and then clearly outline the consequences of breaking the rules. Here are 7 sample rules you could start with:

  1. Alcohol: Absolutely no booze.
  2. Seat belts: Always buckle your safety belt.
  3. Cell phone: No talking or texting while driving.
  4. Curfew: Have the car in the driveway by 10 p.m. or earlier.
  5. Passengers: No more than one at all times, and no more than one who is under 21.
  6. Graduated Drivers License: Follow Michigan’s GDL teen driving law.
  7. Parental rules: Set your house rules and consequences for breaking them.

5. No distracted driving: Drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident if they’re texting while driving. Teen drivers are at a higher risk of texting while driving crashes than drivers of other ages. Here are 13 distractions that cause teen car accidents. Inform your teens about the dangers of distracted driving, and make them pledge not to do so.

Erie Insurance worked with IIHS to conduct an exclusive analysis of crash data from the U.S. Department of Transportation to show how states compare in terms of the relative danger of car accident deaths when teens are behind the wheel.  Michigan ranked 38th in the country with 12.7 teen deaths per 100,000 teens.  This is 13% higher than the death rate for adults.  To see details on all other states, check out the interactive map on teen death rates.

Teen Driver Safety Week was established by Congress in 2007.

Posted in: BLOG, Infographics, Michigan Car Accidents and tagged .

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