When you first set out to learn how to do something, you have to expect that you won’t become an expert at it in a day, a week or even a month, depending on what you need to learn. A new skill or hobby takes time to master and newcomers need regular practice and assistance. Learning to drive is no different.
When you first study to get your license, it may seem like driving is easy — point the car at the road and press the gas to go and the brake to stop. But there is so much more to safe driving and it involves an extensive learning process that most people begin when they are young teenagers, usually 15 and 16 years old, depending on their state’s rules.
Because learning to drive is so involved, it’s critical for teens who are just starting out to have the time and focus to master the skill. An unskilled or unprepared driver doesn’t only put himself at risk but also jeopardizes the safety of everyone else on the road with him, including his passengers and pedestrians. Dangerous driving runs the risk of serious injury or death to anyone involved in a car accident and those are not consequences to be taken lightly.
Let’s Look at the Statistics
According to research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teens run a high risk of distraction when they are behind the wheel of a car. Distraction can come from a number of sources, but most commonly, a teen driver’s attention is often diverted by a fellow passenger or by a cell phone. Most teenagers are in constant communication with their friends via social media, texting, email and pictures, and the communication may continue while they’re on the road.
Although the Foundation’s 2015 Traffic Safety Culture Index demonstrates that teen drivers are aware of the risks and dangers of using a cell phone to talk or text while they’re driving, it would appear that they do it anyway. 74 percent of drivers between the ages of 16-18 say that it is unacceptable to text and drive, but 33 percent report that they have done so in the last month. In Colorado, it is against the law for any driver under the age of 18 to talk on a cell phone while driving, and texting is prohibited for all drivers.
Teaching Teens About Safety
Last month during National Teen Driver Safety Week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shared five tips to help teenagers drive safely:
- Don’t drink and drive. This is obvious, but more important than ever for young drivers. When you combine alcohol, an underage drinker and a car, the risks for accident and injury increase exponentially.
- Wear your seat belt. Seat belts save lives and they are required by law for every trip, no matter how short.
- Put your phone down. A cell phone is a major distraction — a distraction you can’t afford if you’re behind the wheel. Texting and driving is illegal, but it’s also deadly.
- Follow the speed limit. It may be cool to go fast, but it’s certainly not safe. Every time the car’s speed doubles, the stopping distance quadruples and you may not be able to protect yourself from an accident or collision if you’re traveling at high speeds.
- Travel small. Don’t have more than one passenger at a time when you’re driving. Colorado law states that teen drivers should have no passengers during the first six months, and they’re allowed only one for the first year.
Teaching teenagers how to drive safely benefits everyone and keeps our roads safer. For more information on Teen Safety Week or driving laws in Colorado, contact the Levine Law Firm. Our Denver injury lawyers represent anyone who has been hurt in a car accident caused by someone else.