Many teenage drivers believe they hold the keys to freedom when they turn 16 and get their driver’s license. They’re ready to zip to the pool with friends, cram their car with friends for Friday night football games and cruise city streets on Saturday nights.
Unfortunately, joy riding and carloads of friends can lead to teenage car accidents. Motor vehicle accidents are the No. 1 cause of death for teens in Alabama and many states, topping other types of accidental injuries, drug dependence, cancer and heart disease, according to a study by the American Automobile Association.
The risk of crashing is twice as high among drivers 16 to 19 as those in the 20 to 24 range, and the younger the driver the higher the risk, according to Alabama Public Health.
Alabama teens are involved in a disproportionate share of fatal accidents. Teens make up 7 percent of the motoring population but account for 13 percent of the drivers involved in deadly wrecks, the AAA study shows.
Car-crash deaths account for 50 percent of preventable deaths for Alabama residents under 18 every year, and driver inexperience is the cause of a quarter of those fatalities, Alabama Public Health reports.
Parents don’t have to give up total control when you give your teen driver the keys to the family car. Parents need to remain proactive in helping your teens stay safe on the road. Consider a Teen Driving Contract.
A good way to underscore the importance of driver safety is to negotiate a contract with your teen, setting realistic goals and granting more privileges as the teen driver earns them through safe driving. Some items to consider including in the contract are:
Here is a sample teen driving agreement that may serve as a starting point for discussion. The negotiation of the terms of the contract is part of education process of the teen driver. Most negotiations usually require give and take by both sides. It’s important to enforce the contract if the teen driver disregards the terms.
Parents should be aware when accidents are most likely to occur.
Most crashes in Alabama take place from 3 p.m. to 5:59 p.m., when students get out of school and adults get off work, according to Alabama Crash Facts 2012. The Alabama Department of Transportation, reports more than 33,700 crashes occurred during the 3 to 6 p.m. period—representing a fourth of all crashes.
The most deadly time is after 11 p.m., with a higher portion of fatal accidents. Fifty deaths were recorded in 2012 in that period, 5.7 percent of fatalities, even though only 2,082 crashes occurred.
As part of the contract you draw up, parents may wish to include a realistic curfew limiting driving late at night.
Friday is the most crash-prone day of the week in Alabama, with 22,771 wrecks reported in 2012, accounting for nearly a fifth of the total collisions.
Saturday is the most deadly day with 183 fatalities, 21 percent of the crash deaths, the state report shows.
Fortunately, Alabama’s young drivers are making significant progress in roadway safety.
In 2013, Alabama motorists age 15 to 19 were involved in 99 fatal crashes compared to 234 in 2004, showing yearly declines in the number of deadly wrecks, according to the most recent figures available with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The introduction of graduated driver’s license programs for young drivers and increased public safety programs are primary factors in those improving numbers, officials say.
Young Alabama drivers with a graduated license are not allowed to have more than one non-family member riding in the vehicle with them. They’re also prohibited from driving between midnight and 6 a.m. unless they have a parent or legal guardian with them.
Yet during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, teen drivers remain a menace to themselves and others on the roadways.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows even though wrecks and fatalities attributed to teen drivers are down more than 50 percent over the last decade, young drivers are still a risk behind the wheel.
In 2013, 220 teen drivers and passengers were killed in crashes in each of the summer months, a 43 percent increase over the months during the rest of the year, an AAA analysis of federal figures showed.
The summer months are a good time for parents to sit down with teen drivers and explain the serious responsibility that comes with operating a motor vehicle.
It’s important for parents to find a balance between being a responsible parent and being an over-protective parent. Let your teen drive you on a local errand periodically so you can see how they are doing as drivers.
While driving certainly brings freedom, it also presents the risk of serious accidents and serious consequences of an accident. The most important thing is for young drivers to remain safe and learn from their mistakes so they become better drivers. If you have been injured in an accident caused by another driver in Alabama, talk to a car accident lawyer about your legal options. Call us at (205) 933-1500 for a free consultation. We offer a case evaluation free of charge and are ready to help you obtain full compensation for your losses. With offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and Montgomery, our Alabama personal injury lawyers will quickly travel to investigate your case.