Of all the drivers on our roads, perhaps none are more at risk of being involved in an auto accident as teens.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that six teens in our country die every day from injuries suffered in a motor vehicle crash, while approximately 10 times that number are treated in emergency room departments for car accident-related injuries.
In Tennessee, drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 are involved in more accidents every year than drivers in any other age category, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security. In the past year alone, more than 22,000 drivers under the age of 21 have been in traffic accidents within our state, the agency reports.
Teens face an increased risk of being involved in an accident for numerous reasons, including their inexperience behind the wheel. In addition to a lack of developed driving skills, teens also face a high risk of distraction due to the use of cell phones and other hand-held electronic devices.
In order to reduce the number of teen car accidents in our state, the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (HSO) has partnered with Nissan North America to develop a new teen driver safety program.
WHAT IS THINKFAST INTERACTIVE?
ThinkFast Interactive is a free program for schools that are located in high crash rate areas throughout Tennessee.
As the name implies, the program is interactive and hands-on. The intent of the interactive nature of the program is to provide students with “memory hooks” and promote retention of information, according to WDEF.
The program focuses on teaching teens about traffic rules, distracted driving, traffic penalties and Tennessee’s laws regarding alcohol use and possession.
The website, ThinkFastInteractive.com, states that the program provides instruction in an MTV-style production set and uses mainstream music, video, trivia and an engaging and exciting host. The program has received the Life Savers award, which is offered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Schools that will be able to access the program for free are located in various areas of the state, including Jackson, Memphis, Nashville, Ashland City, Spring Hill and Centerville.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS A PARENT TO HELP YOUR TEEN DRIVE SAFELY?
As a parent, you can do a number of things to help provide your teen with the tools that your teen needs to drive safely – even if the child does not attend one of the schools that will benefit from the teen driver safety program discussed above. Consider the following:
TALK TO YOUR TEEN ABOUT DISTRACTED DRIVING.
One of the greatest risks for teens on the road today is the risk of distraction while driving. Most of the time, teens are distracted by their cell phones, usually because of texting or using mobile applications like Instagram or Snapchat.
There is a relationship between the use of cell phones while driving and fatal accidents in Tennessee. Discuss this relationship with your teen. Inform the teen that driving while distracted is dangerous, and it is against the law in Tennessee.
If you need more information about texting while driving, please see our blog article, “Dialing Up Danger?”
PRACTICE WITH YOUR TEEN.
Another thing that you can do to help keep your teen safe is to practice driving with the teen. Many parents are worried about letting their teen drive at night or at high speeds – especially in traffic – as the teen starts learning how to drive.
While this is a normal fear, keep in mind that if your teen does not learn how to drive during these stressful situations with you, the teen will learn it at another time. Having you in the car to advise the teen is a much safer situation and learning environment.
SERVE AS AN EXAMPLE AND AS A RESOURCE FOR YOUR TEEN.
One of the best ways to promote safe driving is to model it yourself. Always buckle up, drive sober, put your cell phone away and pay attention to the task at hand while operating a motor vehicle.
You should also promote a relationship with your teen where he or she is comfortable asking you about different driving laws or safety tips and can come to you with any concerns that the teen may have.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO AFTER YOUR TEEN IS INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT?
We hope that your teen is never involved in a crash and makes it into adulthood and later years accident-free. However, if a crash does happen, and your teen suffers injuries, our firm will be here for your family. We can answer any questions you have about car accident laws in our state, how to file a claim, when you can file a lawsuit and more.
If you have questions or need legal representation, please contact us today. Your initial consultation is completely free of charge, and there is no obligation to retain our services.