With summer in full swing there are plenty of young drivers on the road enjoying their new found freedom. As the number of young drivers increases, unfortunately so does the risk of automobile accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the leading causes of teen car crashes are driver inexperience, alcohol and drug use, driving in inclement weather, risky behavior such as speeding, and driver distractions in the car.
When one mentions distracted driving, texting and driving immediately comes to mind. Under Virginia law, Code § 46.2-1078.1, it is unlawful to operate a moving motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth while sending or reading texts or emails. In addition to texting and emailing, other driver distractions include talking on the cell phone, eating while driving, playing loud music, putting on make-up, interacting with other passengers, and trying to read a road map or GPS.
It is important to talk to the teenagers and young adults in your life about driver safety on the road and the dangers of distracted driving. If you need information on ways to approach your children or don’t know what to say, the following organizations have websites dedicated to reducing teen crashes and educating young drivers on safe driving habits. Visit these websites to learn ways in which you can open up the dialogue with your children about driver safety and the dangers of distracted driving:
- Partners for Safe Teen Driving – http://www.safeteendriving.org/. The objective of this organization is to reduce the incidences of teenage automobile crashes, injuries and fatalities in Virginia through school and community-wide initiatives.
- Teen Driving – http://www.teendriving.com/. Started 15 years ago by a young high school student as an on-line community service, this website is the number one most popular teen driving site on the web.
- Texting While Driving – http://texting-while-driving.org/. This site focuses on educating drivers about the dangers of texting and driving.
About the Author: Courtney Allen Van Winkle is a partner and personal injury attorney in Richmond with Allen & Allen. She has been ranked in Virginia Super Lawyers, which include only 5% of attorneys in Virginia. With a career spanning more than 20 years, Courtney has handled personal injury cases involving catastrophic injury, brain injury and wrongful death in Richmond, VA and across the state.