Top 3 Mistakes Teen Drivers Make

A woman is driving a car

A young woman is driving a car with one hand on the wheel

Teen drivers can reduce their risk of auto accidents by avoiding common mistakes behind the wheel. The more teen drivers know about safely handling a motor vehicle, the less likely they are to become involved in a car accident in Nevada. Parents can help their teens develop good driving habits so that they don’t need the guidance of Las Vegas car accident attorneys down the road.

Common Driving Mistakes

There are many teen driving mistakes that can cause motor vehicle accidents. Three common causes of serious injury or wrongful death when a teenage driver is behind the wheel include:

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving takes many forms. Electronic distractions such as sending a text message, chatting via Facebook messenger, checking Instagram, or simply browsing the web on a mobile phone can be deadly. Many teen drivers also eat and drink behind the wheel. Teenagers are also prone to engaging in conversations with passengers, excessive adjustment of radio/temperature controls, and daydreaming at stoplights. These activities take away the driver’s focus on traffic, road conditions, and pedestrians.

Every moment a teenage driver isn’t focused on the road is a moment that a motor vehicle collision can occur. About 10% of teen drivers become distracted while learning to drive with their parents or instructor. This rate increases significantly when they are left to go “solo.”  

Speeding

Teaching teens proper speed control and adherence to posted speed limits is a cornerstone of safe driving. Speed kills teen drivers at an alarming rate. Of the 14,000 fatal accidents involving teenagers recorded from 2012-2016, about 4,200 were speed-related. In 66% of these accidents, injured victims weren’t the teen, but rather the passengers and pedestrians their vehicles struck.

In addition to following speed limits, teens need to learn how to properly brake vehicles. Poor braking technique is a common cause of collisions; in particular, rear-end accidents where the teen driver comes upon traffic or stop signals at an excessive rate of speed. The more teen drivers understand the required stopping distances, the less likely they are to become involved in a speed-related motor vehicle accident.

Risk-Taking

Teens are legendary for the risks they take behind the wheel. Flying over speed bumps, cornering at excessive speed, and doing cookies in an empty parking lot are all risky behaviors teen drivers are often willing to take the risk. Many teens won’t use seat belts, may experiment with drinking and driving, neglect basic maintenance, or adopt a “devil may care” attitude behind the wheel. 

It is vital to teaching teens that they are not invincible and that rules aren’t guidelines. They are laws and violating them can result in serious penalties that can include traffic citations, fines, prison, personal injuries, or wrongful death. Parents should closely monitor teen drivers for unsafe driving behaviors and reinforce the risks of not following the rules of the road every time they get behind the wheel.    

What Parents Can Do

Parents play a critical role in keeping teen drivers safe on the road. One of the best things parents can do is to model safe driving behaviors long before it’s time to take driver’s ed classes and practice tests. Parents should closely monitor their own driving behaviors and openly discuss driving techniques, the rules of the road, and vehicle handling characteristics with teens. This will help familiarize them with driving and the knowledge it takes to safely operate a motor vehicle.

It is also crucial to practice and reinforce safe driving techniques as the teen learns to drive. The more practice, the more reinforcement of critical concepts, and the greater the familiarity with the vehicle’s handling characteristics, the safer teens will become. As teen drivers become more comfortable and confident behind the wheel, parents should gradually step back and let them take over demonstrating that they understand and adhere to the concepts they have learned. 

Once the keys are in teens’ hands, it is vital to monitor behavior closely as they begin exploring the local roadways. Parents should not hesitate to enforce strict rules regarding what behaviors are allowed, where they can travel, and which behaviors are not acceptable. Parents should use their judgment in this regard and should not hesitate to limit or revoke teen driving privileges if they engage in unsafe behaviors that could harm themselves or others. Following these tips can help prevent teens from needing a Las Vegas car attorney to help them recover damages from a serious motor vehicle accident, or defend them when they cause a motor vehicle accident in Nevada.