It’s finally happened: your teen is old enough to start driving. You may be excited for them that they’re finally of age to secure an Illinois driver’s license, but you’re also a little apprehensive. If you’re a parent, you know they’re eager to get behind the wheel and start driving here in Marion; it can be nerve-racking.
It’s natural for you to want your teen to be safe on the road, but you also don’t want them to become overwhelmed with anxiety every time they get in the car. That’s why our legal team at Prince Law Firm has put together this teen driving safety guide.
In this guide, we’ll discuss some essential things to keep in mind when your teen starts driving. We’ll also talk about how personal injury lawyers can help if your teen is involved in an accident.
Teen Driving Can Be Dangerous if Not Taken Seriously
Driving has been a rite of passage for generations, but as a parent, we all remember that teenagers think they are invincible and take unnecessary risks. That’s why it’s important to remind your teen that driving is a serious responsibility in Marion, IL.
It’s no secret that car accidents are the leading cause of preventable teenage deaths in the United States annually. Thousands of teens lose their lives in preventable accidents every year. That’s why it’s so crucial for parents to talk to their kids about safety when they’re behind the wheel.
While teenagers in the United States generally drive less than driving-aged adults, their accidents account for a disproportionately higher number of wrecks and crash-related fatalities. For example, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2020, over 2,700 teenage drivers, 13-19, were killed in car accidents. Furthermore, about two out of every three teenagers who died in motor vehicle accidents were male. Even worse, teenagers aged 16-19 are approximately three times more likely to be in a fatal crash.
Why Teens Become Involved in Motor Vehicle Crashes
Teen drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident than other motorists. There are a few reasons why this is the case.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a lack of experience is one of the main reasons teens are more likely to get into car accidents. This inexperience leads to a teen’s reduced ability to navigate hazardous situations and leads them to engage in more impulsive decisions. The CDC also contends teenagers are most likely to:
- Underestimate hazardous situations
- Speed and allow shorter headways
- Fail to wear a seatbelt
- Drive under the influence of alcohol
- Operate a vehicle while drowsy or fatigued
- Participate in reckless driving
Nighttime driving is hazardous, and about half of all teen crashes happen at night. This likely happens because there are more distractions at night, and it’s harder to see potential hazards given the limited visibility at that time of the day. Marion, IL parents may ask, “Can my teenager or friends ride together?” Unfortunately, the answer is no. Even one teen passenger can raise the chance of a collision by 44% when driving.
Teenage Brains Think Differently From Adult Ones
Drivers aren’t the only ones killed in car accidents involving teenage drivers. So why are adolescent drivers more at risk of becoming involved in car accidents? According to recent studies, one of the reasons for teen accidents may be related to how immature brains function.
While driving is a complicated activity that necessitates a person’s attention on the road, traffic, and their ultimate destination, it also requires them to filter out distractions while adapting to ever-changing circumstances.
The brain’s frontal lobe, which is responsible for complex tasks, doesn’t fully develop until early adulthood. As a result, low executive function levels in teenagers account for risk-taking and impulsivity.
How Can Parents Help Teens Drive Safely?
While you can’t be in the car with your teen every time they drive, there are things you can do to help them stay safe on the road in Illinois. According to a 2017 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, driver training focusing on a teen’s executive functioning skills might help reduce the high number of adolescent vehicle accidents.
Some tips are subjective and not all-inclusive, but they’re a start. Parents should be proactive and try different strategies to address this problem better. For instance, consider the strategies below as you fill out your arsenal of tools to help your teen become a safer driver.
- Set limits on the number of passengers in the car with your teen
- Encourage your teenager to take a defensive driving course
- Make sure your teen gets plenty of practice behind the wheel in different traffic and weather conditions
Be a role model driver. Don’t text and drive, obey the speed limit, and always use your seat belt and perhaps your teen will follow your lead.
Other Tips for New Drivers
Learning to drive well can take time, but being a safe driver requires more than skill. Good driving habits are essential to keeping you and others safe. Parents should spend about 30 minutes each week driving with their teens to help familiarize them with traffic safety rules and many different situations.
- Plan the route: Map out your route before you start driving. Routing will help them know what to expect and give them a better sense of the time it will take to get to their destination.
- Scan the road: A crucial skill for all new drivers is scanning the road. Scanning means looking ahead, to the sides, and behind you frequently to look for potential hazards.
- Check the vehicle: Before you start driving, take a few minutes to check your car. Ensure the tires are properly inflated, the oil is at the correct level, and all the lights are working. Discuss ordinary but necessary maintenance tasks.
- Use the signals: When you’re about to turn or change lanes, be sure to use your turn signals to let other drivers know what you’re doing.
Consider Other Resources if Teaching Is Not for You
Let’s face it; most parents want to be able to teach their children how to drive. But, some parents feel more comfortable handing the keys to a professional driver. If this is the case for you, there are other options.
You can look for local driving schools that offer behind-the-wheel instruction. You can also check with your insurance company to see if they offer discounts for taking driver’s education courses. Spend some time reviewing information about Illinois’ Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. GDL programs typically involve a three-phase approach; the first phase is usually a learner’s permit, followed by a restricted license, and finally, a full license.
The best way to ensure your teen is safe on the road is to stay involved in their driving. Bottom line, remember you are entrusting your child with one of the most dangerous things in the world—a car.
Seeking Financial Compensation After a Car Accident
All the preparation in the world cannot always prevent an accident. It’s a disturbing thought, but many fatal teen car crashes occur six months after receiving their license.
While Illinois at-fault accident laws may not allow you to recover compensation for your teen’s injuries or crash-related fatality, these state statutes do allow you to seek damages if another motorists’ negligent driving behaviors caused your adolescent harm.
A personal injury attorney like ours at Prince Law Firm can help you receive the compensation you deserve and ensure that your rights are protected in the latter scenario described above. For example, suppose your teenager is hurt in a vehicle accident. In that case, the at-fault driver should be held liable for any losses, such as medical expenses, physical therapy fees, emotional or psychological trauma, etc.
Filing a civil lawsuit with an experienced car accident attorney is the best way to guarantee you receive compensation for all losses related to a car accident, including future medical care that your teen might require.
Your lawyer will take care of your stressful details, like evidence gathering and dealing with an at-fault party’s insurance company. You shouldn’t have to go through this process alone, and you certainly shouldn’t be taken advantage of by insurance companies. Please contact our Marion, IL law office to schedule a free consultation to discuss your teen’s car crash case.