Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers, with six deaths reported every day. Studies have shown the staggering reality that one in two children will be involved in a car accident before leaving high school and teens are three times at risk of dying in a vehicle than any other age group. There is plenty you can do as a parent, however, to greatly reduce the risk of your child being hurt or killed in a car crash. Through education and the enforcement of family rules, you can make sure that your child is following driving safety tips.
Data Shows Teens are Inexperienced and Distracted
One of the most influential factors in teen car accidents is inexperience. Teenagers are less capable when it comes to judging the speed of vehicles, how much space is required to change lanes or maneuver the vehicle and how quickly their own vehicle can come to a safe merging speed. They are also more likely to be distracted by music, mobile devices, and their friends while they are behind the wheel.
The National Organization for Youth Safety released the following data as part of an effort to educate parents on key safety concerns facing their teen children.
- 58% of accidents involving teenagers are caused by distracted driving. The number of drivers who are operating a vehicle while texting or talking on the phone is alarming and children need to have restrictions placed on the usage of these devices to ensure their safety. While recent laws have served as deterrents for distracted driving, it is important that you make certain your child understands why it is important to avoid texting or talking while driving.
- 66% of teenage drivers or passengers who die in car accidents are not wearing a seatbelt. You can greatly improve your child’s chance of surviving a collision by developing a habit of never placing the vehicle in motion unless everyone is buckled up.
- One-quarter of teen car accidents are caused by underage drinking. Many parents don’t suspect that their own children would ever drink and drive, but peer pressure and other influences often cause teenagers to make poor decisions. It is a good idea to discuss this danger with your child and to let him or her know to call you instead of getting behind the wheel if he or she ever drinks alcohol.
Driving Safety Tips to Prevent Teen Driving Accidents
Experience and education are the two most powerful preventative tools you can use to keep your child safe. It is important to understand that just because he or she passed a driver’s exam doesn’t mean that he or she has the experience or decision-making process to handle a vehicle as you can. Continue to practice and develop your child’s skills even after he or she has earned a license.
While laws are in place to act as a deterrent and catch those who are behaving recklessly, the rules that you put in place and enforce will go much farther than the law ever can. You need to be clear on subjects such as curfew, driving at night, how many passengers they may have in the vehicle and the usage of the radio and cellular devices.
Also, make sure to let your children know what to do in the event of an accident. This includes who they should call, how to interact with the police and the other driver and how to produce important documents such as the vehicle’s registration and insurance information. Make sure they know where these items are located in the vehicle so that they can access them quickly.
Child Passenger Safety
Since 2000, over 1,900 children have died every year in car accidents across the United States. Almost a third of these deaths were children under the age of four and about four out of ten of the children who died under the age of seven were not properly restrained. This comes from the ongoing confusion parents encounter when trying to choose the right car seat for their child and the lack of education offered regarding the topic. The following tips and information will help you significantly improve your child’s chance of surviving an accident.
Children Require Different Types of Car Seats as They Age
It is important not only that you choose a car seat that is compatible with your vehicle, but that is also compatible with your child’s age, weight, and height. Following are the CDC guidelines for the stages of car seats and when a child should graduate to the next level.
Stage One — from a child’s birth to about two years of age, he or she should be secured in a rear-facing car seat. This type of seat should be used until your child’s height and weight pass the limits of the seat, which should be listed in the owner’s manual. This is the only time period your child should ever be secured in a rear-facing seat.
Stage Two — children between the age of two and five should ride buckled into a forward-facing car seat. It is important that you do not place the car seat in the front passenger seat of the car, as this can result in severe injury when the airbag deploys during an accident. Make sure you are aware of the height and weight limitations of your seat so that you can replace it when your child surpasses these limits.
Stage Three — after about five years old, your child should be placed in a booster seat until he or she is able to use a seat belt. The amount of time it will take for your child to grow out of his or her booster seat will vary and you can tell it is time once you are able to secure a seat belt with the lap belt across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the chest.
Stage Four — once your child has outgrown his or her booster seat, it is important to make sure that he or she remains in the backseat until twelve years of age and that you make it a habit for everyone in the vehicle to use seatbelts. This includes short trips.
Children are more likely to wear their seatbelts when you wear your own, so make sure that you also secure yourself behind the wheel. This will not only provide a good example, but it will increase your chance of survival in a car accident.
Learn How to Safely Use Your Child’s Car Seat
Parents are normally keen on buying car seats for their children, but many catastrophes result from not knowing how to properly use the seats they have purchased. As there are so many different types of car seats available and three different stages of seat children need to progress through, it is easy for confusion to set in. If you are unsure about whether you are using the right seat or using it properly, you can have a professional inspect your vehicle and provide advice.
One way to do this is to locate a car seat inspection station during National Child Passenger Safety week every September, where you can receive this inspection free of charge. Parents who have recently changed car seats find this to be a valuable service. Another way is to arrange a meeting with a certified child passenger safety technician through the CDC.
The CDC reports that the risk of infant mortality is reduced by 71% during a car accident when the right car seat is used in the correct manner and that children under eight years old are twice as likely to survive a car accident when secured properly. Ensuring your child’s safety begins with education and developing the safe habits needed to secure you and your family while on the road.
Call an Experience Injury Attorney
Personal Injury Lawyer Flora Templeton Stuart has served Kentucky & Tennessee for over 40 years. If you’ve been in a car or truck crash, call attorney Flora Stuart. Flora Templeton Stuart at (888) 782-9090. She and her team have represented those seriously injured in car, semi-truck, and personal injury accidents.