With summer break coming up, scores of teenagers will be driving on the already busy Pennsylvania highways. If you are the parent of a teenager, handing over the keys to the family car might cause anxiety. Not only for the safety of the child but also for your liability if your teen causes an accident that injures or kills others.
Along with inexperience, distractions cause many teen crashes. Communicating about this problem may help to keep your child safe. Cellphones are not the only thing that can distract young drivers — anything that takes the mind off driving, the hands off the steering wheel or the eyes off the road can cause an accident.
Talk with your teen about distractions
Distractions can be inside the vehicle or outside, and some are more obvious than others are. Creating awareness of the following distractions might save your teenager’s life along with the lives of his or her passengers and other road users:
- Eating and drinking: Holding a burger in one hand and a beverage in the other while holding the steering wheel with the pinkies is not cool. This leaves the driver with no control, made worse if a piece of food drops or the beverage spills.
- Cellphones: Texting, checking social networks, taking selfies and a whole lot more are par for the course for many teen drivers. Teach your teen to pull off the road and park in a safe spot before using a cellphone.
- Applying makeup: This is hazardous even if the driver is stopped at a red light. Remember, activities that take the eyes off the road and the hands off the wheel are dangerous.
- Reaching for objects: Whether it is on the floor, in the glove box or on the rear seat, grasping for any item is distracting.
- Infotainment systems: While these systems can keep the driver and passengers entertained, informed and connected, they are also distracting. The best time to navigate infotainment systems is while safely parked.
- Passengers: Friends, younger siblings and family of all ages can easily distract a teenage driver.
- Scenery: While scenic drives are enjoyable, they can be attention-grabbing and distracting. It is best to pull over to admire the natural landscape, monuments and other attractions.
- Rubbernecking: It takes willpower to focus on driving when you come across a crash scene. However, navigating safely around it rather than rubbernecking to take in the details can avoid another accident.
- Billboards: While it is impossible not to notice them, teens must learn not to allow their focus to linger on billboards for too long.
Accidents may happen
Regardless of all the time you spent teaching your teenager how to avoid distractions, he or she might be unable to avoid another negligent or distracted driver. If this causes a crash, you may pursue recovery of damages on behalf of your child. Experienced legal counsel can explain your rights under Pennsylvania laws and provide the necessary support and guidance throughout ensuing legal proceedings.