Vehicle accidents are the top killer of teens in the U.S., according to Consumer Reports. It’s been estimated that a 16- or 17-year-old driver is three time more likely to be killed while driving than those twenty and older, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. These are grim numbers for Texas’ teen drivers and their parents, but steps can be taken to improve the odds that your son or daughter will get to their destination safely.
You can start by making a good example when you drive or are a passenger. Kids pay attention to what we do, even if they don’t pay attention to what we say.
- Under state law, those in the front seat must use seatbelts, but those older than 17 need not use them if they’re behind the driver. Use your seatbelt all the time, no matter where you sit. In an accident, seatbelt use may be the difference between death and a serious injury or a serious injury and a minor one.
- Put away your phone. Don’t use it while driving. Even using it hands-free has been shown to be no safer than talking while holding it in your hand.
- Speed kills. If you drive over the speed limit, why shouldn’t your child do the same? The faster you drive, the less control you have over your vehicle.
- Don’t drink and drive. Don’t set the example that it’s perfectly fine to have one or more drinks and then get behind the wheel. Set the example by not drinking and driving or by having a designated, sober driver.
Like many other states, Texas has a graduated driver’s licensing program which tries to deal with the problem of the fact that the youngest drivers are the most at risk because of their lack of experience, but they only gain experience by driving.
- Under Texas law, those younger than 18 need to have a learner license or a minor restricted driver license for at least six months before getting a provisional Class A, B or C driver license.
- If the person has held a valid learner license or restricted license for a minimum of six months, reached the age of 16, completed both the classroom and behind-the-wheel parts of driver education classes, completed the Impact Texas Drivers (ITD) requirement (watching a video on distracted driving), and passed the driving test, he or she qualifies for the provisional license.
- There are restrictions on driving, including the number of passengers, when the teen can drive and the use of cell or smartphones. If for 12 months the driver has no problems, the restrictions are lifted.
Other things to consider are …
- A driving contract that clearly states the acceptable and unacceptable driving behaviors, curfews, distances, allowable passengers and the consequences when rules are broken.
- The type of vehicle your child drives. Is it a sports car that your child won’t be able to handle? An SUV or pickup with a high center of gravity that may be difficult to drive or prone to roll over at high speeds? A vehicle with good or bad safety ratings?
Driving is dangerous, but its risks are manageable with safe driving practices. Reduce those risks for your teen driver by setting a good example and setting rules that will be enforced.
If you or a family member has been seriously injured in a traffic accident, don’t wait to get legal help from a compassionate Austin car accident lawyer like Chip Evans. Fill out our contact form now so we can start the conversation about your accident, your legal rights and how we can help.