This is part two in a three part Marks Law Group series on teen drivers. Our first article is on why teen drivers are at risk. At Marks Law Group, we’re committed to helping you navigate the tricky and often stressful waters of allowing your teen to drive. Since teenage driving is the leading cause of death for teens, it’s important that we as parents and members of the community identify the eight danger zones of teenage driving and how to help your teen navigate them.
Given the research, there are proven steps that we can take to try to make driving as safe a prospect as possible for our teens. The NHTSA suggests families focus on “increasing seat belt use, implementing graduated driver licensing, and reducing teens’ access to alcohol.”
In this article, we’ll explore the 8 “danger zones” identified by the CDC that most contribute to risks to teen drivers and the high rate of teen injuries and death as a result of motor vehicle accidents. These danger zones include:
Crash risk is highest in the first year a teen has their license.
The CDC encourages parents to “provide at least 30 to 50 hours of supervised driving practice over at least six months.” This practice should include driving in many conditions, different times of day, different weather conditions, and different sorts of roadways. Teens should practice on a variety of roads, at different times of day, and in varied weather and traffic conditions.
After passing a knowledge test as early as age 15, Georgia drivers must practice driving at least 40 hours, including at least 6 hours at night.
Further, during this practice driving, parents should talk with their teen drivers about continually scanning the road for possible hazards so teens learn to anticipate the actions of others. This practice will allow them to imagine and prepare to respond to any driving situation.
Crash risk goes up when teens drive with other teens in the car. The CDC explains that one of the most impactful legislative steps many states have taken is to institute a graduated driver licensing program.
Georgia parents must follow the Teen and Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA) for young drivers between 15 and 18. Under this program, learning drivers must pass a written exam, a practical driving exam, and accumulate at least 40 hours of instructional driving (6 of which must be at night). 16-year old drivers must also complete an approved driver education course.
Further, parents ought to limit the number of teen passengers they allow in their child’s car since “the presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers[, and t]his risk increases with increased numbers of teen passengers.”
Driving at night is riskier for everyone, but it is even riskier for teen drivers.
CDC research indicates that “in 2017, 40% of motor vehicle crash deaths among teen drivers and passengers aged 13-19 occurred between 9 pm and 6 am, and 51% occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.” Parents should dramatically limit the time their teens spend driving during these hours and on these days.
While Georgia law prohibits teens from driving between midnight and 6am, to limit this risk further, parents ought to make sure teen drivers are off of the road by 9 or 10pm, especially early in their teen’s licensure.
The simplest way to prevent car crash deaths is to buckle up. Parents must require their teen to wear a seat belt on every trip. Doing so can reduce the risk of each teen driver dying or being badly injured in a crash by about half.
As we mentioned in part one of this series, inexperience and frontal lobe development both diminish teen drivers’ capacity to make logical and cautious decisions while driving. In addition to this, distractions dramatically increase the risk of teens being in a crash.
Teen drivers have the greatest percentage of distraction-related fatal crashes, and in 2017, “9% of all teen motor vehicle crash deaths involved distracted driving.”
Most frequently, teen drivers can face visual distractions (taking their eyes off the road), manual distractions (taking their hands off the wheel), and cognitive distractions (taking their mind off the task of driving).
The most obvious distraction current teens must face while driving is cell phone use. We recommend using our article, “Parenting In the Age of the Smart Phone” for more information about how you can help prevent your child using a cell phone while driving by implementing a Safe Driving Contract between you and your child.
While no driver is in Georgia is legally allowed to hold a cell phone while driving, according to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), in 2017, 42% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days reported sending a text or email while driving.
Further to this, students who texted while driving were more likely to take further risks like not wearing their seatbelt, riding with a driver who has been drinking, or drinking and driving themselves.
Parents must get serious with teens about activities that could take their teen driver’s attention away from driving, including “talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, or playing with the radio.” You can learn more about distracted driving here.
Another form of impaired or distracted driving is driving while drowsy.
Teens require a lot of sleep for growth. They also log very long and late hours between participating in after-school activities, completing homework, and grabbing a bite to eat.
Teens are most tired and at risk when driving in the early morning or late at night, which makes Georgia’s laws prohibiting teen driving between 11:59pm and 6:00am even more important.
Beyond reinforcing this legislation at home, parents can take care to know their teen’s schedule so they can be sure that they are well rested and so that parents can provide transportation whenever necessary.
Study after study demonstrates that teens do not have the judgment, experience, or maturity to appropriately assess risky driving situations.
Add reckless driving, which can be defined as driving in a way that disregards traffic laws and poses therefore poses a risk to others, to this mix, and you have a recipe for disastrous circumstances.
Parents can make specific safe driving habits a topic of conversation well before their children get behind the wheel. Using a safe driving contract that you and your child both sign is one way to help solidify the importance of safe driving in your child’s mind.
Whether you discuss the importance of speed limits or walk your child through your own decision-making process while you are driving, it is essential to help your teen safely learn the differences between safe and reckless driving.
According to a CDC study on underage drinking, about 30% of teens surveyed drank in the past 30 days. Of that 30%, 6% drove while under the influence of alcohol.
Given all the other challenges facing teen drivers, they must understand that even one drink will impair their driving ability and increase their risk of a crash. Parents must emphasize this fact to teens.
Further, parents must be good role models. Never ever drink and drive.
At Marks Law Group, LLC, we are committed to supporting accident victims and families. While we are here to help you navigate the judicial system in the aftermath of the loss or injury of your teen, we would prefer to provide you with information that can help prevent that loss or injury in the first place, such as this list of eight driving danger zones for teens.
If your family has experienced the unimaginable loss or catastrophic injury of your teen as a result of the negligence of others, there is restitution and a path forward for you and your family. At Marks Law Group, LLC, we can help you begin to pick up the pieces after a serious crash involving your teenage driver. We will carefully investigate and build your case meticulously. Call us today at 404-800-1625.