Although the number of fatal car accidents in British Columbia and Canada as a whole has decreased significantly over the past 20 years, auto accidents are still the leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 19. In fact, teens make up just 13 percent of licensed drivers in Canada, but they account for 20 percent of motor vehicle deaths and injuries.
For parents who are sending their teenage kids back to school, this can make the fall a scary time. It's vital to foster safe driving habits in your kid even before their first trip behind the wheel. These five tips could help you instill driving habits in your teen that keep them safe throughout their lives.
Put Down the Phone
Texting while driving has surpassed drinking and driving has the leading cause of fatal accidents among teen drivers in Canada. More than 3,000 teens die each year in crashes caused by texting and driving.
There's no safe way to use your phone while driving. When you look at your phone, it takes your brain about 30 seconds to refocus on the road. In that time, you travel 750 meters driving at 90 km/h. A lot can happen across 750 meters. Because of this latency, it's unsafe to look at your phone even at a stop sign or traffic light.
Approximately 25 percent of all people killed in motor vehicle accidents in Canada were not wearing their seat belt. In fact, wearing a seat belt reduces by half the risk of being killed or seriously injured in an accident. At just 55 km/h, a car crash without a seat belt has the same impact as falling from a four-storey building.
However, your kid may feel that a seat belt is too restrictive. They may think that because they now have a car, they can make their own decisions about their safety. As a parent, you should instill in them not only the safety benefits of wearing a seat belt but also the financial penalties if they're caught without one. Their first offense would result in a $240 fine.
Even if you trust your teen to obey traffic laws, avoid distractions, and drive safely, you can't place that same trust in other motorists. Fellow drivers may drive recklessly, react aggressively, or be under the influence of substances.
Teach your kid to spot these drivers by frequently checking their mirrors and scanning their surroundings. Ensure they maintain a safe stopping distance behind other cars. Help them understand that they can't depend on other motorists to drive safely. They should assume that other drivers will run red lights and stop signs. They should anticipate that they won't be given room to merge. Preparing your teen for worst-case scenarios will help them better respond to those situations.
Obey Speed Limits
Speed limits are posted for a reason. Driving too fast gives your kid less time to react to changing conditions on the road and may leave them vulnerable to an otherwise avoidable collision. Posted speed limits also apply to ideal road conditions. In imperfect circumstances, your teen will have to be even more cautious.
However, your kid may be tempted to throw caution to the wind now that they have the freedom of being able to drive. They may face pressure from their friends to race or to drive at excessive speeds. It's vital that you reinforce the dangers of high-speed collisions.
Be a Good Role Model
All the teaching in the world means nothing if you aren't reinforcing your lessons with your own actions. If you tell your kid to obey traffic laws and drive safely, but then you flout the rules and drive recklessly, your teen will see through your hypocrisy.
Don't preach at your teen. Don't tell them what is right. Show them what is right. If you act like the driver you want them to become, you will go a long way toward helping them achieve that.
Call Our British Columbia Car Accident Lawyers Today
At Stephens & Holman, our lawyers have served British Columbians since 1983. If you or your teen are injured because of the actions of another driver, we will tirelessly pursue justice on your behalf and help you recover the compensation you may deserve.
With 24 locations throughout British Columbia, we serve the greater Vancouver area as well as the entire province. Call (604) 730-4120 today to schedule a consultation.