Teenage drivers are three times more likely to become involved in an automobile accident at night than adult drivers.

Eight Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe After They Start to Drive

For many parents, the day a teenager begins to drive is a scary one. The anxiety can be alleviated, however. How can we help keep teenage drivers safe?

1. Insist That They Buckle Up

Make sure that young drivers and their passengers use seat belts. It keeps them safer. It’s also the law in Colorado. Behave the way you want your kids to behave. If you make a habit of always wearing their seat belts, your children are more likely to make it a habit as well.

2. Insist That They Drive Sober

There is no safe amount of alcohol that a young driver may consume before driving. In Colorado, if a minor drives with even a trace of alcohol, it is punishable by law. Having booze in the car is also verboten. According to Colorado course materials on “Alcohol and other Drug-impaired Driving,” punishable acts include “[drinking or possessing] an open container in the passenger area of a vehicle on a public highway, right of way or park. It is a three-point offense.”

More powerful than legal sanctions may be the example of parents. Teenagers who see their parents drink and drive are more likely to drink and drive.

3. Avoid Distractions and Teach Your Children to Avoid Them

It is dangerous for any driver to talk on a cellphone or to text or check email while driving. But doing these things is especially dangerous for inexperienced young drivers. If you let yourself be distracted by your cellphone while you are driving, you are also encouraging your teenage driver to do the same.

4. Limit the Number of Passengers

Many young drivers are easily distracted. Being behind the wheel with a lot of chatty and impulsive passengers in tow increases their chances of becoming involved in an accident. So Colorado law strictly limits how many passengers younger than 21 a teenage driver may have in his car: none for the first six months as a licensed driver (unless a licensed adult driver older than 21 is also in the car), then only one passenger younger than 21 for the next six months. And no more than one passenger may ever be in the front seat.

5. Discourage Drowsy Driving

What with studying, socializing, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs, the lives of young people can be hectic. But a crammed schedule can lead to sleep deprivation and drowsy driving. Drowsy driving is not just a matter of falling asleep behind the wheel; even if a young driver manages to stay awake, sleepiness can impair his alertness, reaction time, and ability to judge and focus.

6. Encourage Following the Speed Limit

Teenagers are often in a hurry. But speeding is not only illegal, it’s dangerous. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, speeding is a factor in nearly 35 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in the state.

7. Restrict Nighttime Driving

Teenage drivers are much more likely to become involved in an automobile accident at night than adult drivers. The reduced visibility after sunset means that drivers have less time to see and react to road signs, curves, road debris, or pedestrians crossing the street. Drivers are also more likely to encounter other drivers who are impaired by alcohol or drugs.

8. Provide Plenty of Ways to Get Home

If teenagers have been drinking and are afraid to drive (or are afraid to ride with a drunk driver), they may be reluctant to speak up. Parents should make sure their children know that, whatever the circumstances, they have several ways to get home safely, including by calling a parent for a ride.

Contact an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact the Law Offices of Daniel R. Rosen online or call 303-454-8000 or 800-ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney today.

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