If you’re like most parents, celebrating your child’s 16th birthday tends to come with mixed feelings. On one hand, you’re proud that your kid has earned his or her driver’s license, and you’re even a little bit excited to see them start embracing some independence. On the other hand, you’re terrified of letting them take off in a car without your expert guidance.
Unfortunately, you can’t keep your kids in a bubble and you can’t always be by their side, but you can do everything in your power to ensure that they’re safe. One of the best ways to do this is to spend a good bit of time researching and understanding what the leading causes of teen-related automobile accidents are, and then sitting down with your teen to discuss rules and boundaries in order to prevent these types of devastating accidents before they occur. This post will highlight the leading cause of teen auto accidents and help you come up with a safety plan with your child.
Teen Drivers and Cellphones
Believe it or not, every year nearly half a million Americans are either injured or killed in accidents related to texting and driving, and a larger percentage of these accidents involve teen drivers (approximately 27%, according to the Department of Transportation). Today’s teenagers depend on their cellphones in order to stay connected to their friends, get directions, figure out where to hang out, capture photos and videos, and so much more. Unfortunately, attempting to manipulate a phone while on the road affects three key functions that are necessary for driving:
- Visual – With eyes focused on a screen, your teen isn’t watching the road ahead, or paying attention to vehicle and traffic signals.
- Manual – In order to fiddle with a cellphone, at least one hand is taken off the steering wheel, and reflexes are slowed.
- Cognitive – A teenager who is thinking about their text conversation or getting the best footage of that sunset for their Snapchat story isn’t going to be processing important information about signage, traffic flow, and signals at full capacity.
Creating a Plan
Knowing that cellphones present a danger to teen drivers is not enough to keep your child safe. Before handing your teenager the keys to their car, be sure to sit down and discuss Colorado cellphone laws and best practices for safety. Although your teen may not want to hear that he or she can’t use a cellphone while driving, Colorado law prohibits teen drivers under the age of 18 from using a cellphone in any way (even voice-to-text or calls) unless they are making an emergency call to the police or fire department. Breaking this law could result in your teen losing his or her license.
Have your teen agree to turn cellphones off or to utilize the “do not disturb” function prior to driving, or consider downloading an app that locks phone functions when the vehicle is in motion. Instruct your teen to pull safely to the side of the road and put the vehicle in park prior to making any calls, punching in directions to Google Maps, or using any other applications. Set hard consequences for any breakage of these safety rules. Being the “mean parent” that revokes cellphone privileges is much better than learning your child was in an accident.
Handing a set of car keys to a new teen driver doesn’t have to be quite as scary or stressful when you’ve done your due diligence to discuss safety concerns and come up with a plan for your kid.
Have you or a loved one been involved in an accident related to distracted driving, or do you have any other legal matters you’d like to discuss? Let Mintz Law Firm fight for you today.