How to Reduce the Risk of Auto Accidents Among Young Drivers

By Peter DePaolis

How to Prevent Car Accidents

Young drivers present a danger to themselves and everyone else on the roadway. Beginner drivers do not have the real-world experience to safely navigate common roadway hazards, such as wet roads or children darting into traffic. They are also more prone to reckless and negligent driving behaviors, including distracted driving and drunk driving. In 2017, 3,255 teenagers ages 15 to 19 were involved in fatal car accidents in the U.S. These accidents caused the deaths of 1,830 teen drivers. If you are responsible for a young driver, learn how you can reduce his or her risk of getting into an auto accident.

Enforce Permitted Driver Laws

Learn your state’s rules and stipulations for young drivers with learner’s permits. Most states and counties have specific laws in place for young and inexperienced drivers, such as harsher distracted driving restrictions and limits on what times of day the driver can be on the road. Learn and obey your state’s rules to increase your teen driver’s safety. If your teen’s license calls for supervised driving, for example, be sure to ride with your teen or send another responsible licensed driver along. Enforce a strict curfew by when your teen must be off the road. Many fatal accidents, especially those involving drunk and drowsy drivers, happen after sundown.

Explain the Importance of Avoiding Driver Distractions

Driving while distracted makes it impossible to commit 100% of the driver’s attention to the road. Distracted drivers are the reason for thousands of serious and fatal auto accidents every year. In 2017 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 3,166 deaths due to distracted drivers around the U.S. Teach your young driver to always put his or her cellphone away, safely out of reach, while driving. Go over distracted driving accident facts to express to your teen how dangerous this practice can be, even for experienced drivers. Set rules about other distractions as well, such as eating behind the wheel or driving with passengers.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Technology may be the main reason behind distracted driving, but it could also present the solution. When your child starts driving, use technology to your advantage to prevent him or her from texting or talking on a cellphone behind the wheel. Existing tech such as apps you can download onto your child’s cellphone can automatically block him or her from texting while driving. Emerging technologies such as car automation features can also help prevent distracted driving with features such as lane-departure warnings and lane-keeping assist. While your teen driver should not rely solely on technology to avoid distracted driving, certain tech can help keep you in control of what he or she does behind the wheel.

Spread Awareness of the Dangers of Drunk Driving

Statistically, drunk driving and related accidents are more common among young drivers than adults. In 2017, drivers 16 to 24 years old accounted for 42% of drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents. All states have a legal drinking age of 21, yet many drunk drivers killed in accidents are much younger. Teach your teen the extreme dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Express your willingness to pick him or her up without negative repercussions if he or she is too drunk to drive. Present safer alternatives to driving drunk such as staying at a friend’s house, using a designated sober driver or calling an Uber.

Set a Positive Example

Your young driver will look to you as an example of how to operate a motor vehicle. If you are using your cellphone, eating fast food, driving distracted, driving intoxicated, speeding or engaging in other dangerous practices, your child will see these as normal and acceptable driver behaviors and do the same. Set a positive example by always obeying traffic laws and keeping safety in mind while driving, particularly with your child in the car. You have more influence over your teenager’s driving habits than you might think. Present an example of a safe driver and watch him or her follow suit. Teach your teenage driver good habits from the beginning to help prevent a tragic accident.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.