Giving your child the keys to the car and the freedom that comes with it is a milestone in the lives of both children and their parents. If you are a parent, it can also be a time marked by concerns about your child’s safety and well-being – and for good reason. Teen and novice drivers are simply inexperienced when it comes to handling a motor vehicle and navigating our roads and highways. Unfortunately, this creates increased risks for car accidents, including those that result in injuries. In fact, auto accidents are a leading cause of preventable injuries and death among young Americans.
At The Daspit Law Firm, our Beaumont personal injury attorneys have represented many clients who were harmed in car wrecks that could and should have been prevented, including wrecks that involved young and inexperienced motorists. Because we see how the same critical errors committed by teen drivers can result in devastating consequences, we want to help local parents take the necessary steps to help their children be as safe as possible when on the road.
If you have a teen driver on your hands, it is critical that you help them understand that driving is a privilege not a right, and that it comes with many responsibilities. For one, all drivers have a legal duty to drive safely, and to take reasonable measures that reduce risks of preventable crashes. When they fail to do so, they can be held civilly liable for the damages victims suffer as a result of their negligence. In some cases, they may also be held accountable in a criminal court.
In addition to helping teens understand their responsibilities whenever they get behind the wheel, it is also important to remind them about some of the most common mistakes new drivers make:
- Cell Phone Use – Distracted driving has become a nationwide epidemic on our roads, contributing to thousands of preventable deaths and injuries every year. When it comes to distracted driving, cell phone use is considered the most dangerous form because it requires a driver to devote their mental attention, visual focus, and manual efforts on a task other than operating a vehicle. Because teens are more likely to be constantly engaged in their phones, you should speak openly with them about the risks of doing so. Texting and using a cell phone puts others at risk, and in Texas, it is against the law for novice drivers to text or use a cell phone in any way when driving.
- Other Distractions – While cell phone use and text messaging are significant concerns, any form of distraction poses dangers. Remind your son or daughter that driving should always be the primary focus when they are on the road. This means it is important to avoid all distractions, including eating or drinking, adjusting music, talking to passengers, reading, and personal grooming.
- Speeding – Teen drivers lack experience in gauging their speed, when traveling on open roads, or when in traffic. Some teens may also feel the need to go fast and test their limits. However, speeding creates significant risks, and even more so when the speeder is a teen who isn’t always familiar with crash avoidance or the rules of the road. Remind your child that they should travel the speed limit at all times, or even under the speed limit in the slow lane until they have become comfortable in traffic. You should also discuss adjusting to safe speeds given certain situations, such as heavy traffic, poor weather, dangerous roads, school zones, and construction zones.
- High Risk Behaviors – It is a biological fact that teens are more prone to taking risks than older adults. Behind the wheel, this risk taking attitude can spell disaster and easily lead to preventable wrecks. Teens should always err on the side of caution and should never make a driving move until they know the coast is clear. This requires obeying the laws, scanning their surroundings, being aware of blind spots, using turn signals, and never entering traffic or making a turn unless they are absolutely sure no cars or pedestrians are approaching and the coast is clear.
- Impairment – Driver impairment is a risk posed by drivers of all ages. Even if your teen is not old enough to legally consume alcohol, it bears reminding that many teens still drink. Speak openly with your child about the risks of drunk and drugged driving – risks that can forever change their lives and the lives of others. While it may be a difficult conversation to have with an underage motorist, you should make sure you child knows that driving under the influence should never happen. In any situation where getting behind the wheel after drinking seems like an option, drivers should know that they have options, including designated drivers, taxis, rideshare services, or even a call to mom and dad if it means the difference between a safe ride and one that can have life-altering consequences.
Even when teens do their part to obey the law, reduce risks, and avoid common mistakes that can lead to wrecks, car accidents can still happen when other motorists are negligent. When they do, The Daspit Law Firm and our experienced attorneys are available to help injured victims and their families pursue a personal injury lawsuit to recover their damages, including any medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses victims incurred.
To discuss a potential case with a member of our team, contact us for a FREE consulation.