Recently, it was estimated 3,000 automobile accident fatalities involved drivers between the ages of 15 and 19. Serving as a trial lawyer for over 30 years, I understand the importance of teaching new drivers about safety, and I have witnessed the horror of thousands of teen accidents.
Teaching safe driving to teenagers is not a simple task—showing them horrific photos of accidents does not work. Research conducted by safety and insurance specialists reveals that you can’t simply scare teens into making smart choices. While teenagers often exhibit physical and intellectual maturity, their ability to exercise sound judgment is less developed. Neuroscientists explain that the last part of the brain to develop is the frontal lobe—the site of judgment control.
The best way to overcome this deficiency is to teach the rational part of the brain to make the best decisions possible. A recent article in Trial magazine suggests that a comfortable format, such as a game or simulation, is the best approach to impart safe driving. Teens need to learn that for every additional friend in the car, the risk of having an accident is multiplied. Distractions from cell phones and i-pods compromise reaction times. While many teenagers claim to be “texting” experts, they do not realize that their eyes are off the road 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while they text and drive.
Eight American teens die from motor vehicle accidents every day, and if this were a disease killing that many youths, nearly every major hospital would be conducting research to try to find a cure. Instead, we are tossing the car keys to our teens and rarely asking them even a few of these important questions: Where are you going? Who will be in the car with you? Where will you be stopping? When will you be home?
Educating parents and teens can help keep our road safe for not only our teens but other drivers as well. However, if you are ever injured in any type of vehicle mishap, call me for a free consultation at 866-460-1990.