5 tips for keeping teen drivers safe on New Mexico roads

Driving is a dangerous responsibility, particularly for teenagers, but there are things that parents can do to help keep their young drivers safe.

Getting their driver's license is something that most young people in New Mexico, and elsewhere, look forward to leading up to their sixteenth birthdays. However, driving can be dangerous and motor vehicle collisions involving teenage drivers are all too common. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 14 and 18-years-old is car accidents. While not all crashes can be avoided, there are some things that parents can do to help keep their teens safe while they are on the roads.

Limit the number of passengers

With getting their driver's licenses comes the freedom to drive themselves and their friends wherever they want to go. Having additional passengers, particularly other teens, in the car may be distracting for teenage drivers. This may contribute to an increased risk of being involved in collisions with potentially serious consequences. Thus, it is suggested that parents limit the number of passengers their teens are allowed to have in their vehicles for a time.

Discuss the dangers of drinking and driving

Although teens are not of the legal drinking age, some may choose to consume alcoholic beverages. All too often, this contributes to serious motor vehicle collisions. In 2013 alone, nearly 600 people died in alcohol-related accidents involving teens, according to the NHTSA. Therefore, it is recommended that parents talk about the dangers of drunk driving with their teens before allowing them to hit the road on their own. Additionally, it is advisable for them to establish a zero tolerance policy for their households when it comes to alcohol consumption.

Encourage safe driving habits

There are numerous dangers on the roads that might be avoided if motorists avoid hazardous driving behaviors. This includes speeding and not wearing seatbelts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 56 percent of the young people between the ages of 13 and 20-years-old who died in car accidents in 2013 were not wearing seatbelts. In order to prevent some serious teen driving collisions, it is important for parents to encourage their teenagers to practice safe driving habits.

Cut out the distractions

Motorists, especially teenage drivers, face a number of distractions while behind the wheel. This includes talking on the phone, text messaging, adjusting the radio, and eating or drinking. Distracted drivers may not notice changes in the driving conditions or emergency situations in time to avoid auto accidents. As such, parents are advised to discuss distractions with their young drivers and encourage them not to use their cellphones or engage in other distracting behaviors while they are behind the wheel.

Be a good role model

As is the case with many things during children's development, teen drivers will learn a lot by watching their parents drive. Consequently, it is important for parents to practice what they preach and be good role models for their young drivers. By avoiding distractions and other dangerous driving behaviors and practicing appropriate driving habits, parents may show their teens how to remain safe while they are behind the wheel.

Consulting with an attorney

Even when proper care is taken, New Mexico teens may be involved in auto accidents resulting in serious injuries. Those who suffer such injuries may incur unexpected medical costs and lost income, among other damages. As such, it may benefit people who have experienced this type of situation to seek legal guidance. An attorney may explain their rights and help them to understand their options for pursuing financial justice.