Our auto accident lawyers suggest rules to protect teenage drivers and prevent teen car accidents in Michigan
Last week I blogged about an AAA Michigan study that said summer is the deadliest time of the year for teens in car accidents.
AAA determined that between 2005 and 2009, an average of 422 teen auto accident fatalities occurred each month during summer months, but dropped to 363 during non-summer months. On a positive note, the AAA report also reported that the new Michigan teen driving law enacted by the legislature this year will save teen lives and lower the number of teenage driver car accidents.
Here are some steps parents can take to make sure teen drivers are safe when they are behind the wheel:
1. Restrict driving and eliminate trips that don’t have a purpose: I realize this is unpopular with teens, but teens – statistically – are very bad drivers. Teenagers have three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers, and a teen’s crash risk is highest during the first year of solo driving. Parents should limit teens’ driving to essential trips and only with parental permission for at least the first year of driving. There are always problems with generalizing, but teen car accident rates are the highest of all demographic groups for a reason. Let teens learn and get driving experience slowly.
2. NO texting while driving: Texting while driving increases a person’s crash risk by 23 percent. And we all know that teens are known for their addiction to smart phones. Please, remind your teenagers to put the phone down while they’re behind the wheel at all times.
3. Become an effective coach: The best way for new teen drivers to gain experience is through parent-supervised practice driving, where parents can observe and share wisdom accumulated over many years of driving. Even after a teen has a license that allows solo driving, parents and teens should continue to practice driving together.
4. Limit the number of teens in the car: Teen crash rates increase with each teenaged passenger in the vehicle. According to AAA Michigan, total crash rates for 16- to 19-year-olds increase fivefold when two or more teen passengers are present than when teens drive alone. That’s astounding – a fivefold increase. Also, riding in a vehicle with a teenage driver can be risky for teen passengers. Parents need be aware, and consider who their children are riding with.
5. Restrict night driving: A teen driver’s chances of being involved in a deadly car accident also doubles when teens are driving at night. This was one of the main reasons behind Michigan’s graduated licensing laws. Many parents (even before the teen driving law) rightly limited driving during late night hours. Parents should carefully monitor teen nighttime driving, as more than half of nighttime auto accidents occur between 9 p.m. and midnight. AAA recommendations say that newly-licensed teens should not drive after 9 or 10 p.m. unless they’re accompanied by a responsible adult.
6. Establish a parent-teenager driving agreement: Many parents and teenagers find that written agreements help set and enforce clear rules about driving at night, passengers and access to the vehicle. Take a look at AAA’s sample parent-teen driving agreement.
– Steven M. Gursten, partner of Michigan Auto Law, is recognized as one of the nation’s top auto accident lawyers. He has received the top verdicts and settlements for car accident or truck accidents cases in the past three years, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Steve frequently blogs about safe driving – such as teen driving, elder driving, and safety issues – and is available for comment.
- Source, AAA Michigan press release July 2011
- Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by djuggler
Related Information to protect yourself:
Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call for a free consultation with an one of our accident lawyers.