Getting a driver’s license is an exciting rite of passage for teenagers. However, young drivers are more at risk of getting in an accident. Every day in the United States, seven teenagers die in car accidents and hundreds more are injured. Talking about safe driving with your teen can help mitigate the risks.
Here are some tips young drivers should follow to stay safe:
1. Don’t Drive Distracted
Distracted driving is dangerous for anyone, but it is especially hazardous for teen drivers who are still getting used to being on the road. Distractions include anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, or their mind off the task of driving.
Texting is one of the most talked-about distractions, and one of the most common among both adults and teens. In a 2019 survey, 39% of teenage drivers admitted to texting and driving at least once in the 30 days prior to the survey. One study indicates that drivers are 30% more likely to get into an accident if they are texting and driving, so this is a serious risk. This is according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Keep in mind that distracted driving does not only include texting. Eating, adjusting volume or air conditioning knobs, or searching through a purse are all forms of distracted driving. Driving while experiencing a strong emotion and driving while tired also fall under this umbrella.
2. Avoid Nighttime Driving
Accidents are more common at night for all age groups, but these risks are increased for teen drivers. According to the CDC, 40% of fatal accidents among teenage drivers in 2019 occurred between 9 pm and 6 am. Young drivers between ages 16 and 19 were also three times more likely to be in a fatal nighttime crash compared to adult drivers between 30 and 59 years old. This is after adjusting for the miles driven.
Arizona law restricts driving hours for newly licensed drivers. With some exceptions, teenagers can’t drive between the hours of midnight and 5 am within the first six months of getting their license.
3. Minimize Passengers
For young drivers, the risk of getting in an accident increases with every teenage or young adult passenger. Driving around with friends can create distractions for teen drivers and paired with their overall lack of driving experience, this can be a dangerous situation.
Arizona restricts the number of non-family member passengers under 18 to one for the first six months under the state’s graduated driver’s license (GDL) laws. If the parent or legal guardian is in the front passenger seat, this limit does not apply.
4. Know What To Do After An Accident
While you want to hope your teen driver will never be involved in a collision, accidents do happen and it’s important to be prepared. All drivers, regardless of their age, should know what to do if they are ever in a crash.
The first step is to check for any injuries. If anyone has been injured, contact emergency services. Even if there are not any injuries, you should contact the police to report the accident and get checked out by a medical professional, as some injuries can take time to appear.
Move the vehicle out of travel lanes if you are able to do so, turn off the engine, and turn on your hazard lights. Exchange information with the other driver(s) if all parties involved are able to do so. Consider taking photos of the scene of the accident, and get in touch with a personal injury attorney as soon as you can.