With many Tampa Bay area schools out for summer recess, many teens have more free time to spend driving. While teen drivers may assist parents in running errands, more time behind the wheel means that the risk of accidents will go up.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) describes the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day as the 100 deadliest of the year for teen traffic accidents. In particular, crashes involving people age 15 to 19 rise sharply. And young drivers aren’t the only ones getting hurt in these accidents.
In 2013, there were 372,000 injuries and 2,900 fatalities as the result of car crashes in which the driver was a teenager. According to a study by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, around 75 percent of those hurt or killed were people other than the driver.
This is why it is vital that parents talk to their children about safe driving, says Matt Nasworthy, a spokesperson for AAA South in Tampa.
Nasworthy says that parents should talk to teens about putting away their cell phones while driving and the danger posed by talking with friends while driving. Cell phones and passengers are the top two driving distractions for teens, he said. If teens can limit those distractions, it will have a dramatic impact on how safe they are behind the wheel.
A teen driver and one teen passenger were seriously injured in a car accident on Westlake Boulevard on May 13 after the 18-year-old driver apparently lost control rounding a curve and hit a tree near Nebraska Avenue, according to a Tampa Bay Times news report. Another passenger suffered minor injuries.
It is important that teens learn how to drive gradually and that they get a lot of supervised driving experience when they have their learner’s permit, says Lt. Steve Preston of the Florida Highway Patrol.
Florida restricts the hours that young, inexperienced drivers can drive. They are permitted to drive between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11p.m. initially.
A driving education course can also be extremely helpful, Preston added.
Teen drivers need to be aware that even with a learner’s permit, they can get in trouble for bad driving. If they are convicted of a moving violation, they will then have to wait a year to get a regular license or until they turn 18.
Distractions while driving continue to be the biggest problems for teens, and Nasworthy has some valuable advice for them.
“Put the phone down; limit the number of passengers they’re driving around with,” he said. “Definitely limit those conversations when they’re driving. Just basically, to keep their mind on the basic task of driving.”
A skilled Tampa car accident attorney can explain your legal options if you have been seriously injured in an accident caused by someone else.