JD Power and Associates recently reported on a Driving Skills for Life program held at Citi Field in Queens, New York. The program’s goal is to insure that teenage drivers become good drivers. Automakers now have technology which allows parents of teens to pre-program vehicle settings related to maximum vehicle speed, maximum stereo volume, seat belt usage and more. In addition, electronic alerts can be sent to parents on a vehicle’s speed and when the vehicle travels beyond certain geographical boundaries.
The fact that teen drivers can be reckless is illustrated by a tragic Long Island car accident reported on by the New York Daily News. Five teens were killed when the Nissan sedan in which they were riding crossed into another lane of traffic and slammed into a Chevrolet Suburban. The driver of the Suburban and his passenger were both taken to a Long Island hospital in serious condition. Police speculated that the teenage driver of the Nissan may have been speeding while engaging in a drag race and-quite possibly-driving while intoxicated.
The New York Department of Health observes that teenage drivers tend to engage in risky driving behaviors such as distracted driving, impaired driving and speeding. In addition, teen drivers have a propensity to fail to yield the right of way and obey traffic control lights and regulatory signs. Each of these reckless and negligent driving behaviors puts innocent pedestrians, cyclists and motorists at a heightened risk for automobile crashes that can cause severe personal injuries and-in too many instances-fatalities.
Teenage drivers often begin driving with the greatest of caution according to an article published in the Claims Journal, an insurance industry trade publication. As the weeks pass without incident, teens begin to lapse into risky driving behaviors which make these newly licensed novice drivers a very high crash risk. Driving is a complicated task and novices tend to make more mistakes when learning a new task. The Claims Journal reports that studies have shown that crash rates among novice drivers is approximately four times higher than experienced drivers. Moreover, the risks of a crash are greatly enhanced among novice drivers if they engage in distracting activities while driving.
Increasingly, impairment is becoming a problem for teenage drivers. USA Today recently reported that, in a survey, nearly one quarter of teens admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or prescription drugs used illegally. What was surprising was that many teens did not view their behavior as dangerous. Some 34 percent believed that smoking marijuana actually improved their driving abilities. Twenty percent believed that alcohol sharpened their driving skills. One traffic safety expert said that teenagers tend to believe they are invincible and nothing bad will happen to them.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that parents can help teen drivers by doing the following:
- Take an active role in teaching your teen how to drive.
- Make it clear that the teen is not to consume alcohol or drugs before or while driving a vehicle.
- Give consideration to an in-vehicle device which will monitor the teen’s driving behavior and flag risky behavior.
- Be a good driving role model in order to set a good example for your teen.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a negligent teen driver, you should call a New York attorney experienced in handling motor vehicle accident cases. Do not allow yourself to be the uncompensated victim of a negligent teenage driver.