A recent tragedy in the Baltimore area has opened the eyes of many concerned parents and safety advocates to the dangers of driving errors among young and aggressive drivers. The loss of two high school students resulting from a combination of speeding and adverse weather conditions is certainly tragic, but unfortunately not uncommon across the United States.
What can be learned from this tragic loss of life?
The tragedy does offer a learning opportunity for many parents and drivers alike, however, by bringing to light the dangers of erroneous actions behind the wheel of a vehicle. The event also hammers home the ideas that driving is both a dangerous and necessary activity, and that maintaining caution and alertness while behind the wheel is vital to the safety of all motorists.
Teenagers are more likely to make mistakes behind the wheel
According to countless studies conducted throughout the country, teenagers are more likely to be involved in crashes resulting from driver error, speed and inexperience. The likelihood of a teen being involved in an accident is increased by many common, and dangerous, habits while driving, including:
- Distracted driving: While not the sole cause of distracted or inattentive driving, the increased use of mobile devices has led to countless accidents resulting from distracted driving. Whether a driver is texting, chatting or even surfing the web on a mobile device, a split second of inattention to the road may have dire consequences.
- Lack of respect for weather: Weather conditions play a role in a large percentage of accidents across the country. Weather conditions that most commonly lead to accidents include fog, snow, heavy rain and slick and icy roads following a rain or snow storm. Far too often young drivers feel invincible to the weather conditions, and operate their vehicles at dangerous speeds or fail to provide enough distance for braking or making a turn.
- Speeding: Whether from an imagined need to get to their destination quickly, or a feeling of invincibility, speeding is a common habit among teen drivers. Unfortunately, excessive speeding is also one of the leading causes of serious accidents that result in severe injuries, or death.
- Following too closely: Inexperienced drivers often fail to provide the proper spacing between their vehicle and the one in front of them. Failing to provide a safe buffer often results in rear-end accidents that can lead to serious and life-altering injuries or loss of life.
Become proactive in teaching responsible driving habits
Losing a child in a car accident is a life-altering experience that no parent deserves to feel. To limit the potential of losing your child in an accident, it is important to become proactive in providing an example of safe, responsible driving.
To set a good example for young drivers, it is important to:
- Pay careful attention to your own driving habits: No amount of time spent in a classroom will ever teach your child as much about driving as their own observations of your actions behind the wheel. Keeping this in mind is vital to instilling responsible driving habits. Pay careful attention to your own driving habits, and try to eliminate unsafe practices while behind the wheel. It may also be helpful to acknowledge mistakes you make while behind the wheel to reinforce the idea that all drivers are capable of making mistakes without the proper focus.
- Point out safety concerns whenever possible: Even before a driver gets their license, it can be helpful to point out unsafe events in the world around them. For example, if you see a driver recklessly changing lanes or speeding, point the action out to your child and reinforce the danger the action may cause. By giving real world examples of dangerous driving habits, and their potential consequences, you may be able to teach your child a thing or two.
- Focus on teaching responsibility behind the wheel: As your driver comes of age and gets a learner’s permit, be sure to teach them the responsible habits you use and the importance of being responsible while behind the wheel. Reinforce the danger of driver errors, and point out any irresponsible and potentially dangerous actions they may take.
By taking this proactive approach to educating your young driver, you provide them with the knowledge they need to act safely and responsibly behind the wheel.