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Keeping your teen driver safe this spring – and beyond

By John Singleton on March 19, 2020

Teaching your teenager to drive is stress-inducing for parents, to put it mildly. Even after a teen has his driver’s license and is demonstrating safe driving practices, we can still feel anxious about letting him on the road. This is especially true in the spring when traffic in Virginia typically rises drastically.

Driving risks in Spring

Traffic accidents rise approximately by 9.1% in the spring in Virginia, as compared with the rest of the year, according to a study by the University of Miami. Among those involved in accidents, drivers younger than 25 are more likely to be in a crash than older drivers. Out-of-state driver crashes also overshadow in-state drivers, suggesting that being unfamiliar with Virginia roads puts people at greater risk for injury. In addition, fatalities have increased by 23% in recent years for drivers ages 15-19, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

Whether your young person is in high school or college, spring can be a dangerous time on the road. Teens may be excited about time off of school and want to hit the road with their friends. While you can’t control other people’s actions, you can try to prepare your young person to be as safe as possible.

Teaching young drivers to stay safe

As parents ourselves, we would never claim that we know how to control teenagers. But we can offer some simple advice to help prepare your young driver for extra spring traffic:

1.      Educate them about the big risks. Teenagers may dismiss your concerns, but it’s still better to make them aware of major driving risks. Concerns to remind them about include the dangers of drinking and driving, as well as distracted driving and fatigued driving, and how to deal with aggressive drivers. But what’s most important is letting them know that you are concerned about their safety so that they may think twice about making a poor decision.

2.      Give them proper training. Virginia laws require that teens complete a 64-hour class and additional behind-the-wheel instruction before applying for a license. How effective this training is comes down to the quality of the teacher and the amount of practice your young person gets. Check reviews on the class, talk with other parents, and meet the instructors before you sign your teenager up. After classes and lessons, ask your young person questions. Stay involved.  You can test your teen’s knowledge and build their confidence about driving.

3.      Remember that practice makes perfect. Safe driving habits are developed over time, but many older drivers take this for granted. We instinctively know how to handle rush hour or safely merge onto a highway. Being present while your teen driver is behind the wheel and following their daily routine, whether it’s driving to school or going out to dinner, can ingrain good habits in them early, especially if you provide helpful guidance. Plus, helping teens become more familiar with local Virginia roads increases their overall safety, as demonstrated by the University of Miami study.

4.      Provide alternative options. Many teenagers don’t want to be picked up from a party by their parents, but they may be more open to other family members or friends. Older siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or friends’ parents may seem less judgmental, and they can provide good alternatives when your teen needs a ride home. If everyone agrees, encourage your teenager to contact the people on your alternative list after they’ve been to a party, or when they’re not able to safely drive themselves home.

5.      Give your teen’s car a tune-up. Sometimes car accidents aren’t caused by reckless behavior, but rather by poor maintenance. Making sure your teen’s tires, brakes, and engine are in top working condition can be the deciding factor in determining the severity of an accident. Also check for any recalls on your family’s vehicles, and replace at-risk parts promptly.

One of the most important aspects of teaching your young driver is just communicating openly. Remember that teens can’t protect themselves from dangers they don’t understand, and the best defense comes from gaining knowledge about risks.

We at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys have created a short but sweet Safe Driving Agreement for Teens with simple rules for teens that will help protect them from distracted driving and other risky behaviors. We encourage every parent to have their teenager sign it and to share it with other families.

Minimizing the risk of accidents may seem overwhelming, but with proper planning, education, and training you can find ways to maximize your teenager’s safety.

Offering you legal help all year-long

If you or your young person is injured this spring or throughout the year, we Virginia car accident attorneys at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys are here to assist you. Traumatic injuries can have a devasting impact on someone’s life, especially a young person’s. While we do our best to educate the public to reduce the number of accidents in Virginia, our legal team is always prepared to take your personal injury case. We will negotiate to get proper and fair compensation for you following a collision. If you or a loved one are in a car accident, contact us at (804) 413-6777 to schedule a free meeting.   Find out your best options today.

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.