The leading cause of death for teenagers 16 to 19 years of age is automobile accidents. Young drivers do not have the experience or the judgment that comes with driving for many years, a fact that is reflected in insurance premiums nationwide. While newer kids may be statistically over-represented in accidents, they can reduce the risk of being involved in a collision with a few simple tips.
1. Avoid Distractions
Most automobile accidents are preventable. Even experienced drivers who get comfortable behind the wheel are susceptible to diverting their attention to something other than driving. The best way for teens to prevent accidents is to avoid distractions behind the wheel. This includes talking on a mobile phone, sending text messages, focusing on one’s appearance or any other matter that removes their attention from the roadway. Teens also have the highest incidence of fatal accidents attributed directly to distractions.
According to Atlanta personal injury lawyers, “The driver, for example, has a duty to exercise reasonable care in operating her automobile. Likewise, employers and parents have a similar duty to ensure that the employees or children to whom they entrusted the vehicle are not reckless drivers.”
2. Attend a defensive driving course
Experienced motorists can recognize warning signs that an accident may be imminent. New drivers concerned about not receiving tickets or focusing on basic vehicle operation often cannot recognize these signs. Defensive courses provide the skills necessary to prevent collisions before they occur. Looking at other cars for visual cues that they will make an abrupt movement, scanning the road ahead, avoiding blind spots and always leaving space to evade another driver are all parts of safe operating. Basic courses focused on licenses may touch on some of these concepts briefly, but do not reinforce these concepts. Improving the driver’s ability to detect and respond to threats on the road is essential to reduce accidents.
3. Take a performance course
Some young individuals may wish to train further for extenuating circumstances. Performance driving courses teach students how to control their vehicles in extreme situations and how a car behaves when the tires reach their limits of adhesion. For students who routinely drive in poor weather conditions, these courses can be valuable. Many basic courses teach teens the theory behind maneuvering in inclement weather, but a performance course can properly teach a student how to control a vehicle.
Performance schools vary significantly in their offerings and any teen or parent considering a high-performance lesson should examine the curriculum carefully. A course offering students the opportunity to operate a professional race car around a circuit is likely to be entertaining, but will not provide the sort of real-world skills that a teen driver needs. A school that teaches them about grip levels and braking on a wet skid-pad will be far more valuable to those new on the road.
4. Minimize friends in the vehicle
Having no young passengers provides three benefits to the new teenage driver. First, not having extra travelers reduces the temptation to show off and succumb to peer pressure; the driver will not have any voices demanding that he or she perform reckless acts behind the wheel. Second, removing passengers from the equation reduces the number of distractions with which the driver must contend. Third, reducing the number of passengers reduces the damages that arise when an incident does occur.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
Those who wish to improve must reinforce theoretical concepts with real-world experience. As they become more acclimated to the vehicle and to driving in general, teenagers will find that applying defensive concepts to be easier. Experience also improves judgment; identifying the warning signs of an accident is important, but knowing what to do about it is essential. While practicing, young motorists must reinforce their skills, rather than merely spend time in the driver’s seat on the highway. Perfect practice makes perfect!
Unfortunately, these tips will not reduce the incidence of traffic collisions to zero. Teens are at the highest risk of an accident of any age bracket and no defensive driving course can provide some young drivers with sound judgment. If an accident occurs, it is important that they are not taken advantage of by biased adjusters or private parties to a collision refusing to repair the damages. They should seek legal counsel whenever an accident occurs in which a person is injured or in which the at-fault party refuses to pay damages.
Guest Author: Ieda Vincent has a son who will soon be learning to drive, and contributes these tips for those with newbies on the road. Stokes & Kopitsky, P.A. can assist you with knowledgeable Atlanta personal injury lawyers committed to reducing the strain and stress caused by automobile accidents. They offer a complimentary evaluation and won’t request any lawyer fees unless they are able to win the case.