With the start of summer here, now is a perfect time to remind your teen driver of safety cautions. Studies show teens are more likely than older adults to underestimate dangerous situations on the road. And having taken driver’s education classes and passed the New York State driving test are no guarantees that your child has internalized what it means to be a safe driver. Highway road patrol and law enforcement agencies are so concerned about drunk driving over the holiday weekend that they will be enforcing a strict DUI crackdown (https://patch.com/new-york/scarsdale/s/gfj7u/stop-dwi-impaired-driving-crackdown-runs-may-25-29)
Staggering Statistics About Teen Drivers
In 2015, more than 2,300 Americans ages 16 to 19 were killed in motor vehicle accidents. A car crash is the most common cause of teen death, and the risk of suffering from a road accident is higher in this age group than any other.
As a traffic attorney in Westchester County, I see too many teens getting into trouble because of careless driving mistakes. And these kids are the lucky ones—they’re just fighting tickets in court, not fighting for their lives because of injuries suffered from a devastating car crash.
Becoming a good driver takes practice and a strong sense of responsibility. For many teens, summertime is fun time. But be sure your teen follows these steps to avoid legal trouble and health hazards.
Steps to Drive Safe
1. Wear your seat belt and make sure all passengers do the same. More than 74,000 teens die or are injured each year because they don’t wear a seatbelt. Be sure to emphasize that buckling up is a must even if just driving around the corner.
2. Resist distractions. Six out of 10 teen crashes involve driver distraction, according to the American Automobile Association. Talking on a handheld cellphone, texting, and searching the internet while driving are dangerous habits and can land you in traffic court. Talking in the car with friends, eating while driving, changing music stations, and manipulating the GPS can also lead to distractions and loss of control in a car. Emphasize the need to stay focused—and, as a parent, model this behavior.
3. Study speed limits. Although speed limits are posted on main roads and highways, it’s possible to find yourself in a suburb or city not knowing what the maximum, or minimum speed is. Before going on a car ride via an unfamiliar route, it's advisable to check speed limits online for the roads you’ll be taking. Driving at the speed of those around you is a good guideline, if they other drivers seem to be going at a comfortable pace. But don’t follow those who are hitting hard on the gas pedal. Always err on the side of caution. It’s a lot easier to explain to a judge why you were driving slowly than why you drove like a madman.
4. Never drive under the influence. Although the legal age for drinking is 21, the reality is that drivers under the age of 21 represent 17 percent of alcohol-related crashes. Talk with your teen about the deadly consequences of combining alcohol, drugs and driving and advise that a sober driver is designated in advance of attending a party. And tell your teen to call you if there’s a sobriety problem preventing his or her safe return home.
5. Be calm if pulled over by the police. Tell your teen that arguing, acting arrogant or being cocky with cops is never a good idea. Neither is ignoring a traffic ticket. Encourage your teen to let you know as soon as possible if he has gotten a traffic ticket so avenues to fight it can be explored with a traffic attorney.
Eli Moore is a top traffic and criminal defense attorney in Westchester County and New York City (EliMooreTrafficAttorney.com). To stay up to date on New York State traffic laws, go to EliMooreTrafficAttorney.com/blog. Got a traffic ticket? For a free consultation, write EliMooreLaw@gmail.com or call (914) 523-5552.