The Governors Highway Safety Association has released a study showing that in the first half of 2012 there was a jump in the national number of fatal traffic accidents involving teen drivers when compared with the number of crashes during the same period in 2011. Experts have many ideas about how to reduce the instances of teen-driver-related car accidents in Coral Gables and other communities:
1) Increase the amount of driving instruction for teens. Graduated licensing programs have already helped reduce the number of teen drivers involved in serious traffic accidents in Coral Gables and other communities. Experts agree that one of the key reasons behind driving accidents involving teen drivers has to do with driver inexperience. Teens may simply not have the behind-the-wheel experience needed in order to avoid some collisions. Getting additional on-road training and extra instruction can help ensure that teen drivers have the skills needed to drive safely. Parents can help by purchasing additional driving instruction and one-on-one driving instruction for their teens.
2) Crack down on distracted driving. According to the National Safety Council, more than 24 percent of traffic accidents involve cell phone use. About 450,000 teens are injured each year and 3,000 are killed due to car accidents, and many experts believe that distracted driving is a key contributor to many accidents involving teen drivers. Studies show that in addition to cell phone use, other passengers are a key cause of distraction for teen drivers. In fact, teen drivers who have teen passengers are more likely to be involved in an accident when compared with teen drivers driving alone or with an adult in the car.
3) Alert teens about the dangers of fatigued driving. Teens may not be aware that driving fatigued is a dangerous situation, so it is important for parents and other adults to explain to teen drivers the dangers of driving distracted and potentially falling asleep behind the wheel.
4) Have parents set rules about driving. Teens should learn that driving is a privilege, not a right. To that end, parents can help by setting firm rules – such as no texting and driving or no passengers in the car – to ensure that their teens do not take unnecessary risks as they slowly build their driving skills.
5) Insist on remedial lessons for teens who get into fender-benders. Fender benders and near accidents are often warning signs that a teen’s driving skills need additional work. Parents can help by getting their teenage driver more one-on-one instruction time and in-car instruction time from a professional driving instructor. This can help teens correct any bad habits and help them get the skills they need in order to avoid collisions.
6) Show teens the effects of dangerous driving. Local authorities have education programs designed especially for teen drivers. It is important for parents to make sure that their teens see the devastating impact that reckless driving, distracted driving, fatigued driving, and careless driving can cause.