Teens and Distracted Driving

Windows down. Music up. Friends laughing and talking in the back seat.  When teens are first introduced to the freedom and independence associated with having a driver’s license, safety is not always the first thing on their minds. Though many news items and public service announcements (PSAs) today focus on the dangers of distracted driving, it is important, states Bucks County personal injury lawyer Michael L. Saile, Jr., that your teen fully understand the potential repercussions of driving while distracted.   

 

Statistics to be Shared with Your Teen

 

Drivers under the age of 20 are representative of the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes. Distracted driving caused 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries in one year alone. Teen drivers are four times as likely to be involved in a distracted driving related collision over any other age group.

 

What are the Best Teaching Tactics?

Even though parents and driving instructors alike warn against practicing distracted driving, teens don’t fully grasp the importance – or they just don’t feel they are distracted if trying to text and drive at the same time. After all, we are a society of multitaskers, right?  Wrong, when it comes to driving anyway.  It cannot be done…safely.  Unfortunately, to find out the risks and dangers of distracted driving, some teens might have to learn the hard way, which unfortunately may involve an accident and injuries. That is a hard way to learn a lesson and no one wants that for their child.  

Therefore, it is important for parents to inform teens of the laws and consequences of distracted driving. Besides introducing them to the actual horrors – such as a fatal accident – of what could happen if your teen causes a collision, another thing that may get a teen’s attention is the fact that if something happens, it will come out of their pocket. This not only means financially, but if a teen causes a distracted driving accident that fatally or permanently injures someone, he/she will have to live with that for the rest of his/her life. This may make them start listening.

Here are some key points to discuss with your teen about distracted driving:

 

  • Keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road at all times. Look in your mirrors before switching lanes or turning.
  • Do not text and drive. It is now illegal in PA to text or browse the internet while driving.  It is a primary offense and carries a $50 fine. New Jersey law bans all cell phone use while driving (unless you are using a hands-free device).
  • Keep cell phone usage to an absolute minimum.  Dialing up a number – even if you are hitting “redial” takes one’s eyes off the road. That split second is enough time to cause an accident. While it is important for a teen to have a cell phone with them in case of an emergency, equipping them with a hands free device is a good idea.
  • Encourage your teen to not eat or drink while driving.
  • Avoid lengthy and involved conversations with friends while driving.
  • Stress to your teens the importance of grooming before they get into the car (brushing hair, putting on makeup, etc.)
  • If your teen is traveling somewhere alone, you can invest in a GPS so they won’t be distracted from reading a map or directions off of the internet.  Instruct them to program the GPS system before they get on the road.
  • Constantly changing the radio or browsing through their MP3 player is also distracting.

It is not only important that teens be well educated about the risks they take when driving in a distracted state, but also for the purpose of being able to recognize when they may be in a situation where their safety is compromised by someone else’s actions, such as when a friend is driving.  To learn more about New Jersey and Pennsylvania distracted driving accidents, visit our website. For information on what to do if involved in a car accident, be sure to order your FREE copy of Attorney Saile’s PA Car Accident Book. It is available for instant download.  Contact the PA and NJ injury lawyers at the Bucks County Law Firm of Cordisco & Saile LLC to discuss your case and learn about your legal options.