Distracted driving is involved in 6 of 10 crashes that seriously injure teenagers.
Each October, National Teen Driver Safety Week is held across the country, helping to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and teen driver safety in general. It also offers parents an excellent opportunity to talk to their teens about safe driving habits.
Studies show that only about 25 percent of parents have talked to their teens about driving safety. This is unfortunate because parents actually have more influence than they think over their teenager’s driving habits.
The bottom line? Parents need to talk with their teens about distracted driving and highway safety. Parents should:
- emphasize that driving is a privilege, not a right.
- make sure their teenage driver knows it is illegal for Michigan teens to use cell phones when driving.
- make sure their teen driver understands that he or she must not only pay attention to other motorists, but also to their own actions behind the wheel.
Distracted Driving And Teenagers
What exactly is distracted driving? It is any activity that diverts attention away from the task of driving. Texting and talking on cell phones are the biggest driving distractions for motorists. In fact, texting while driving is illegal in Michigan for anyone (not just teen drivers).
However, texting and cell phone use are not the only driving distractions that cause car accidents. Other distractions include talking to passengers and flipping through radio stations, as well as eating, grooming and using social media apps (like Snapchat) while driving.
For teens in particular, having other passengers in the car is a major distraction. That’s why it’s a good idea to tell your teenage driver how many passengers they’re allowed to have in the vehicle, and under what circumstances.
If you want to talk to your teen about driving safety, there are many resources available that can help. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and distraction.gov have excellent online information for parents.
In addition, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning has a teen safe driving program in high schools called “Strive For a Safer Drive” (S4SD). The program, which promotes communication among teens about safe driving habits, is aimed at reducing the number of fatal traffic accidents among teenagers. Some auto insurance providers also have programs to promote safe teen driving happens, so ask your insurance carrier if it has something available.
Are Tougher Distracted Driving Laws Needed For Everyone?
Michigan’s current texting and driving law has been criticized by some as being too soft, especially because offenders do not get points on their driver’s license.
That’s why some state legislators have been pushing for a new law that’s similar to the one already in place for teen drivers — that is, no holding or using any portable electronic devices, including cell phones, for ALL Michigan drivers. Some measures have suggested that more severe penalties need to be imposed, including driver’s license points.
The Sinas Dramis Law Firm will be keeping an eye on the texting-while-driving legislative efforts, so be sure to check back here for updates.
Important Insurance Reminders For Parents
In Michigan, vehicle owners can be found liable for damages when the person driving the vehicle was the at-fault driver in a crash.
What does this mean for parents? It means if your teen is driving a vehicle owned by you (the parent), then you (the parent) can be responsible for paying damages if someone was injured in the car accident if the teen was at fault for causing a crash.
What kind of damages could you, the parent, be liable to pay? Non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, and economic loss damages, including the out-of-pocket expenses that aren’t covered by the injured person’s insurance.
Further, parents must remember to include their teenage driver on their auto insurance policy. Yes, it will increase your premium some, but it’s worth the extra cost. Why? Because if your teenager is injured in a Michigan car accident and she has been added to your policy, then she is entitled to no-fault PIP benefits, including medical expenses.
Other reasons to add your teen driver to your no-fault insurance policy: 1) it’s the law and 2) it’s considered fraud if you don’t include your teen driver, and the teen can be fined or lose license for driving without the required insurance