Teen Car Accidents: Make Sure Your Teen Is Ready to Drive

One of the first steps a teen takes toward adulthood is getting their driver’s license. If you have a teenager who is preparing to learn how to drive, it is essential that you teach your teen the importance of practicing safe driving habits.

According to statistics from the American Automobile Association, while only 7 percent of drivers in the U.S. are teenagers, more than double that – 15 percent – of all fatal crashes involve teen drivers. Tragically, the number one cause of death for teens is vehicle accidents. Our Virginia Beach car accident attorneys have represented far too many families who have lost loved ones in teen driving accidents.

Is My Teen Ready to Drive?

In Virginia, a teen who is 15 years and six months old can apply for a learner’s permit. Once the teen has had their permit for at least nine months, they can apply for a provisional license. At 18, they can receive a regular driver’s license.

Although the state has set these guidelines, one of the most critical things a parent can do is ensure their teen is ready for each graduated licensing step. Just because your teen is old enough to take the state’s driving test does not mean they are ready to take it. Deciding if your teen is ready to drive involves assessing several critical criteria determining their preparedness for this significant responsibility. Here are four essential criteria to consider:

Maturity and Responsibility

Maturity and responsibility are foundational qualities for safe driving. Evaluate how well your teen manages emotions, makes decisions, and follows rules. A responsible teen demonstrates accountability in various aspects of life, translating into conscientious behavior on the road. They should understand the seriousness of driving, respect traffic laws, and prioritize safety for themselves and others.

Look for signs of maturity such as consistent adherence to curfews, completing chores or tasks without constant reminders, and taking responsibility for their actions. A mature teen is more likely to approach driving with a cautious and thoughtful mindset, making them less prone to risky behaviors.

Knowledge and Understanding of Traffic Laws

Knowledge of traffic laws and safe driving practices is essential for navigating roads confidently and responsibly. Your teen should have completed a driver’s education program that covers road signs, rules of the road, and defensive driving techniques. Additionally, they should understand the implications of driving under the influence, distracted driving, and other risky behaviors.

Assess your teen’s understanding by discussing hypothetical driving scenarios, asking about specific traffic rules, and observing their ability to interpret road signs and markings during practice drives. A well-informed teen is better equipped to make informed decisions and respond appropriately to various driving situations.

Driving Skills and Experience

Practical driving skills are acquired through experience and practice. Before considering whether your teen is ready to drive independently, ensure they have logged sufficient supervised driving hours with a qualified adult. These practice sessions should cover a range of driving conditions, including residential streets, highways, parking lots, and adverse weather conditions.

Evaluate their proficiency in driving maneuvers such as parking, lane changes, turns, and emergency stops. A competent teen driver demonstrates smooth control of the vehicle, proper scanning of the environment, and the ability to anticipate and react to potential hazards.

Consider enrolling your teen in advanced driving courses or defensive driving programs to enhance their skills and confidence.

Safety Awareness and Decision-Making Skills

Safe driving requires a heightened awareness of one’s surroundings and the ability to make split-second decisions. Assess your teen’s awareness of potential risks on the road, such as distracted drivers, pedestrians, and changing weather conditions. They should demonstrate good judgment in adjusting their speed, maintaining a safe following distance, and yielding to other vehicles or pedestrians.

Discuss the importance of avoiding distractions while driving, such as texting, using smartphones, or adjusting the radio. A responsible teen understands the consequences of these distractions and prioritizes keeping their focus on the road.

Observe how your teen handles stressful or unexpected situations during practice drives. Their ability to remain calm, assess the situation, and take appropriate action (e.g., slowing down or changing lanes) indicates their readiness to handle real-world driving challenges.

Call Our Personal Injury Law Firm for Legal Assistance

Unfortunately, no matter how well you have taught your teen and how safe of a driver they are, there are still other motorists on the road who fail to do the same. If your teen driver is injured in a crash caused by another party, contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to determine your legal options. Our attorneys have a solid reputation for aggressively advocating for our clients to get them the damages they may be entitled to, including financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, pain and suffering, emotional anguish, permanent disability, and more.

Our Virginia Beach injury law firm also offers car accident victims a free car accident injury guide, as well as a free wrongful death guide for families who have lost a loved one in an accident.