All parents will come to the point in their lives when their teenager has reached the driving age and is ready to set out on the open road. A driver’s licence is the beginning of the road to independence for most teenagers. However, due primarily to inexperience, the harsh reality is that motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19.
STATISTICS REGARDING TEENAGE DRIVING
The Traffic Injury Research Foundation examined the involvement of young people in motor vehicle accidents and found that the rate of driver fatalities of those aged 16 to 19 years has consistently been greater than those that are 20 years of age or older. Also, speed was found to be a factor in more than a quarter of those car accidents that resulted in the death of a teen driver.
Impaired driving is a major problem affecting all drivers in Canada, especially young people. Young people between the ages of 16 and 19 account for 23% of fatalities, 18% of injuries and 11% of those arrested for alcohol-related driving offences. More than one third of students in grades 9 to 12 report being a passenger in a vehicle of a driver who has been drinking. In fact, one in three teens do not consider driving while impaired by cannabis to be as bad as drunk driving.
FACTORS WHICH PUT TEENAGE DRIVERS AT RISK
The brain of a teenager is still developing. The prefrontal cortex of the brain, which controls decision-making and risk taking, develops into early adulthood. This might explain why young drivers are more willing to take risks and make impulsive choices while driving. Teen drivers are also more likely to speed and drive with shorter distances between cars.
The leading causes of teenage motor vehicle accidents include the following:
- Driver inexperience;
- Driving with teenage passengers;
- Nighttime driving;
- Not using seatbelts;
- Distracted driving;
- Drowsy driving;
- Reckless driving; and
- Impaired driving.
TIPS TO HELP KEEP YOUR TEENAGE DRIVER SAFE
Cuming & Gillespie LLP would like to provide the following tips to help parents keep their teenage driver safe and help avoid personal injury claims.
- Invest in a safe driving course for your young driver. The more education and practice your child has behind the wheel, the better.
- Emphasize the importance of avoiding distracted driving. Ensuring that your teen is not texting, making phone calls, eating or engaging in any activity that will distract their driving is essential to safe driving. Any behaviour that takes a driver’s attention away from the road is a distraction and potentially dangerous. Setting a good example for your teen is also important. If they see their parent distracted while driving, they will assume it is okay for them to participate in distracted activities as well.
- Set a zero-tolerance drinking or cannabis policy with your child. Many young drivers do not understand or recognize the risks associated with driving while under the influence of cannabis. Impaired driving (alcohol or drugs) can cause shorter attention spans, altered perception of time and distances and slower reaction times that impair a driver’s ability to drive safely.
- Ensure that your teen driver has the proper sleep they need to drive safely. Drowsy driving is very similar to drunk driving. It can impair an individual’s reaction time, judgment and situational awareness.
- Explain the risk of speeding to your teen. Speed was found to be a factor in more than one quarter of teenager driver deaths.
- Limit your teen from driving in stormy or hazardous weather. Inexperienced drivers travelling on slick roads can have disastrous results. Teen drivers need to understand the risks of driving in bad weather. Inclement weather can reduce visibility, impair a driver’s capabilities and reduce a vehicle’s traction and maneuverability. Hazardous road conditions increase crash risk.
- Make buckling a seatbelt a habit. Seat belts can save lives and buckling a seatbelt is something that parents can start teaching their children right from the start. Parents should also model proper seatbelt use and ensure that everyone in their vehicle is always buckled up.
- Be prepared for a motor vehicle accident. As parents, we need to prepare our children for the possibility of an accident occurring while they are driving. We need to teach our children what to expect and what is expected of them following an accident, such as interacting with the police or other driver and exchanging information regarding the vehicle and proof of auto insurance. Parents should also discuss with their teens the importance of telling the truth after an accident.
Keeping your teen safe while driving starts with practicing safe driving yourself, however, accidents are not always avoidable. If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to an inexperienced or impaired teen driver, you could be eligible for compensation.
To learn more about personal injury lawsuits or to file a claim, please contact the experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP online or at 403-571-0555. Our personal injury lawyers will guide you through the litigation process and help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today to make an appointment for a free legal consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.