Reckless Driving Accidents Involving Teen Drivers
Car accidents are the major cause of fatalities among teenagers. Many teens are simply not ready to accept the responsibilities of driving but are allowed in many states to acquire limited licenses at ages as young as 15. Although driver education programs and online certifications emphasize the risks in driving and that everyone needs to obey all traffic laws and exercise caution, reckless driving among teens continues to lead to serious and deadly accidents.
Teens age 16 to 19 are 4 times more likely to be injured in a car accident than older drivers. Young drivers are more likely to take risks, and their inexperience makes them more susceptible to errors in judgment while driving.
Reckless driving refers to any driving conduct that intentionally violates traffic laws and is considered willful disregard for the safety of others. It may be speeding excessively, driving after drinking or doing drugs, racing or distracted driving. With the prevalence of smartphones, their use has become an epidemic rivaling drunk driving. With many teens and even adults, it is too tempting to not respond to a text message or phone call while driving or to send one while driving. Bluetooth allows calls to be conducted hands-free and to text using voice commands, but even this practice takes your eyes and concentration off the road.
Peer pressure can lead to recklessness, with passengers goading you to speed up or to run a red light. Provisional licenses only allow young teens to drive during the day and with an adult in the vehicle, but this is ignored in some cases.
Parents can play a major role in educating their children about driver responsibility. For instance, they can limit the number of teenage passengers for the first 6 months after obtaining their license although their provisional license may already do so. Use of smartphones should always be prohibited when driving, and any use should result in a parent not allowing further driving for a month or some other period. Other restrictions are on the daylight hours the teen may drive and to keep within the posted speed limit or just above it if conditions permit it. Driving within the speed limit should be strictly enforced in suburban areas, though.
Teens do drink and do drugs. Advise your teen never to do so but if they do, to never drive and to call them if they feel impaired without the threat of punishment. Lastly, have an honest discussion about reckless driving behavior with your young driver and get in the car with them and practice driving around town, on freeways and in different types of weather.