Parents can make a difference by setting rules and expectations.
In addition to factors like distracted driving, alcohol, and speeding, overall inexperience with operating motor vehicles has been identified as a major cause of fatal teen car accidents.
To underscore this point, consider that many car accidents involving teens are single-vehicle crashes. In Texas, there were nearly 500 fatal crashes involving young drivers in 2021 - about 200 were single-vehicle crashes.
Inexperience can be tempered by education, and parents have a lot of power to deliver a strong message and set boundaries regarding safe driving.
Now that we're in the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer - an annual period of increased fatal teen accidents nationwide between Memorial Day and Labor Day - it is crucial to review safe driving tips with loved ones who are young or new drivers.
How to talk to your teen about safe driving habits
Now, more than ever, it is important for Texas parents to talk to their children about safe driving. Texas has one of the highest teen fatal crash rates in the U.S. A study found 6.67 teen driver deaths for every 10,000 licensed teens in Texas. On opposite ends of the spectrum, New Mexico's rate is 9.66, and Rhode Island's is 1.58
Parents should demonstrate and talk about good driving habits with their children to promote safer teen driving. Parents may also set rules for their children that aim to reduce their exposure to crash risks. As suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics, here are some "rules of the road" parents can use that may help reduce their son or daughter's crash risks:
- Prohibit driving or riding with others under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including marijuana, which significantly increases the risk of fatal accidents. Some parents promise to give their children a ride if they are ever in this situation.
- Limit the number of passengers in the vehicle, especially during the initial months of licensure. Distractions can impair the focus of inexperienced drivers.
- Encourage responsible music volume and limit device interaction while driving to minimize distractions.
- Emphasize the importance of seat belt usage for all vehicle occupants, as failure to use seat belts significantly increases the risk of injury in a crash. In about 56% of fatal teen crashes, the victim was not wearing a seatbelt.
- Restrict nighttime driving, as it poses additional challenges, especially for inexperienced drivers. About 60% of fatal accidents involving young drivers happen at night.
- Discourage driving when tired, angry, or upset, as these emotional states can impair judgment and reaction times.
- Establish reasonable geographical boundaries to limit long-distance travel until young drivers gain more experience.
- Enforce a strict no-phone policy while the vehicle is in motion to eliminate distractions caused by texting or talking on the phone.
- Emphasize the importance of avoiding hitchhiking and picking up strangers to prioritize personal safety.
We look out for your best interests
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers aged 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than drivers aged 20 and older. According to research, most parents talk to their kids about safe driving, but about one-third do not. Regular frank discussions and setting rules and expectations for young drivers may help reduce the risk of a terrible accident.
However, accidents still happen. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a Texas accident involving a teen driver, contact John R. Solis, Attorney at Law for a free case evaluation. We can answer your questions, explain your options, and help you decide what to do next. Don't delay. A statute of limitations applies to Texas car accidents. Our firm is based in Laredo and serves all of Texas.