Recent charges from a fatal accident involving a teenage driver reminds us of the particular dangers when mixing teenagers and motor vehicles. Contributing factors often include lack of experience, distracted driving, excessive speed, aggressive driving, not using seat belts, driving while drowsy, alcohol and drug use, dare-devil activities.
A fatal single-vehicle crash in Charles County, Maryland that claimed the life of one area teen last November has resulted in charges of reckless and negligent driving against the driver — a 17-year-old Brandywine girl.
A 16-year-old North Point High School junior was killed in the accident, and two other teens were injured when the driver lost control of her 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier, crossing the center line and colliding with several trees on the left side of the roadway. Investigators say the driver was not wearing her seatbelt, and that the accident occurred at a high rate of speed.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 20. The Henrico County, Virginia Community Criminal Justice Board recommends that parents of teen drivers routinely check their brakes and brake fluid — if teens are interested in how fast a car can go, parents should be interested in how quickly it can stop. They also offer the following safety tips related to teen driving:
Defensive Driving Tips : Parents/Teens
- Always wear your safety belt when driving and insist that your passengers wear a safety belt, too. Wearing a safety belt is required by law in every state, except New Hampshire. In some states, passengers also are required by law to wear a safety belt.
- Do not drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol slows your reaction time, blurs and distorts vision, and impairs your judgment about distance. Never use illegal drugs. Read the labels on all prescription medications for warnings; consult your physician about how your medications or over-the-counter drugs could affect your driving.
- Never exceed the posted speed limit. Weather conditions permitting; always maintain the legal speed limit.
- DRIVE SAFELY
- Always practice safe driving and obey the driving laws of your state or locality.
- Buckle up for safety and make sure all passengers use their safety belts as well.
- Don’t drink and drive, use drugs and drive, or drive under the influence.
- Be a cautious driver on the road at all times. Before you get behind the wheel take a mental note and plan out exactly where you are going.
- Encourage safe driving at your school, in your community, and most importantly IN YOUR OWN VEHICLE at ALL TIMES.
- Let your parents know where you’re going and when you’ll be back at all times.
- Set good driving standards for your teens by obeying the driving laws of your state or locality.
- Spend at least 100 hours of in-car training for teens learning to drive before you put them on the road. Even when the teen attains their drivers’ license don’t put them on the road until you feel they are responsible enough and ready to be on the road alone.
- Provide a safe car for teens to drive in. Make sure their car gets inspected on the proper dates.
- Give your teen constructive critiques of their driving and keep your temper in check
- Set realistic goals, expectations, and consequences for your new teen driver.
- Remember teen driving is a privilege not a right. You have every right to take away the drivers’ license if you feel the teen is being irresponsible and not exemplifying good driving skills.
Previously on the DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:
- Evidence that states with weak seat belt laws have more rural traffic deaths
- Partners for Safe Teen Driving: A Virginia health initiative
- The dangers of drowsy teen driving
For information about your legal rights, please click here or call the law firm of Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC at 202-463-3030.