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Youth Traffic Safety: A Continuing Concern

Life can be hard to navigate, and if you become a parent, it’s common to find yourself wishing that your kids would learn from your mistakes rather than repeat them. Some lessons transfer easily: look both ways before crossing the street, don’t talk to strangers, wear sunscreen. But others are a sign of the times: change your passwords often, be careful what you post, don’t participate in sexting. Warnings about behavior behind the wheel may be the most important of all. Familiar cautions about not drinking and driving or speeding while driving have been joined by admonitions not to drive when tired or while using a mobile phone. The National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) highlighted global youth traffic safety earlier this summer and AAA reminds us all that summer is a particularly hazardous time for teen drivers, but there is never a bad time to bring awareness to these issues.

Kids are very observant, so even if yours are years away from getting their license, led by example and show them what positive driving behavior looks like. Talk with them about what you’re doing – and what you’re not. If you have a teen driver, start a conversation with them about their driving habits and how they can make good choices. With car crashes clocking in as the number one killer of U.S. teens and with as much as 94 percent of them caused by human error, what you say has the potential to make a big difference.

Common themes to focus on:

Driving too fast – Managing speed may be the single most important behavior modification that a person can make to increase road safety, benefitting motorists and pedestrians alike. Excessive speeding is a widespread aggravating factor in crashes and the main factor in one-third of fatal crashes, yet a simple 5 percent cut in average speed can result in 30 percent less fatal traffic wrecks. Encourage your teen drivers to #SlowDown and remind them that, whether on wheels or on foot, everyone wants to get where they are going safely.

Talk to young drivers about their driving habits, and model good behavior behind the wheel. Key areas include:

  • Not speeding
  • Not driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Concerns that come with driving after dark
  • Not texting while driving.

Driving while drunk – Alcohol-impaired drivers are involved in motor vehicle crashes that kill almost 30 people a day, the equivalent of one death every 53 minutes. While ingesting alcohol is illegal for anyone under age 21, the reality is that many young adults do participate in this activity – and many also choose to drive under the influence. Many states have zero-tolerance laws for underage drinkers who get behind the wheel. Consuming a relatively small amount of beer, wine, or hard liquor can affect basic driving skills and make the road a far more dangerous place.

Driving at night – The importance of nighttime visibility cannot be overstated. Studies have shown that traffic deaths are three times greater at night than during the day and that one-third of fatal teen car accidents happen at night (57 percent in the dark hours before midnight). Talk to inexperienced drivers about the risks, such as increased animal activity, compromised night vision, being drowsy, and having a dim (or burned out) headlight.

Driving while texting – Distractions do not make for better drivers, and typing on your phone while behind the wheel is a recipe for disaster. Caution young drivers who are inseparable from their mobile devices that the familiarity is a false sense of security. Get them to practice the habit of not checking their phone every few minutes, not reaching for it every time it makes a sound. Texting distracts brains (and hands) from the primary task of operating a vehicle safely.

Small changes can add up to attentive, skilled driving behaviors. However, if you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you need an experienced attorney to effectively represent your interests. At Stabinski & Funt, P.A., we have successfully represented victims throughout Florida who have been seriously hurt by negligent drivers. We have also assisted families who have lost loved ones in traffic accidents. For over 45 years, we have been helping injured motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists put their lives back on track, and we are ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next, or if you have any questions about this topic, call 305-964-8644 or fill out a free case evaluation form.

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