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The Risks of Teen driving: A Guide for Parents

The Risks of Teen driving: A Guide for ParentsBecoming a good driver takes practice, which is why new drivers—including teens—have higher rates of traffic fatalities. Teens starting out on the road need guidance, as there are many risks they face as new drivers. Parents play a vital role in teaching their teens to become good drivers, so it’s essential parents be aware of the risks teens face behind the wheel.

 

The Risks Your Teen Faces

 

Traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death among 15-20 year-olds. This vulnerable age group faces dangers such as distracted driving and riding with inexperienced drivers. You can help mitigate these risks by having an open conversation with your teen about the dangers of driving and providing him or her guidance on how to be a safe and defensive driver.

 

Reducing the Risk

 

Distracted driving is one of the biggest risks today’s teen faces when on the road. Teens face the pressures of staying in constant contact with friends and the online world and are more inclined to want to make the most of their technology—and newfound freedom—by using GPS and other mobile navigation technologies. You should warn your teen of the dangers of using mobile devices while driving, but make sure you set a good example yourself. Model responsible behaviors by getting directions before you start the car, pulling over to take calls, and otherwise staying mobile-free while behind the wheel.

 

Peers can distract teens even more than mobile devices can. Teens who drive with peer passengers face higher rates of traffic fatalities. Unfortunately, more than half of teens who die in car crashes are passengers themselves. Go over the importance of wearing seat belts, and always wear a seat belt yourself when driving with your teen. Also, enforce graduated driving laws, and limit the passengers your teen can drive with to adults only until he or she becomes a more experienced driver.

 

Practice Makes a Difference

 

Lastly, make sure your teen gets more than enough practice. Practice in different conditions, such as day and night, and fair and inclement weather. Practice doesn’t make perfect when it comes to driving, but it can increase the chance your teen can safely avoid an accident.

 

Safe driving comes with practice. But many teens get into accidents while learning how to drive. Make sure you work with your teen on safe driving habits and help them navigate the insurance claim process if they do get in an accident. Speak with an experienced Illinois auto accident attorney if you need guidance. An attorney can advise you on what could potentially happen to your auto insurance rates, explain the claims process, and make sure your rights—and those of your teen—are protected.

 

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an accident, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

 

 

Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week

Distracted Driving

In support of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, from April 24 through April 28, Illinois has designated Distracted Driving Awareness Week. The Illinois Association of Police asked the governor to declare that week as National Driving Awareness Week. The goal is to bring awareness to the potential consequences and dangers that result from distracted driving. The governor and both houses passed resolutions, recognizing this week as National Driving Awareness Week in Illinois.

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Distracted Drivers – How Insurance Rates Increase

Distracted Drivers

As smart phones become smarter, drivers have a harder time keeping their hands off of their phones while driving. With every convenience and entertainment option at your fingertips, many drivers find it difficult to focus solely on the road while driving. Even with a  changing auto industry with smarter and driverless cars, car accidents are increasing across the United States. Some believe cell phone usage contributed to this increase. As drivers become more dangerous daily, insurance companies  increase their rates to keep up with the increasing number of accidents.

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Distracted Driving: Staying Focused on the Road in Illinois

Distracted driving is linked to more than 1.6 million crashes in the United States annually, resulting in serious injuries and sometimes deaths.  Some experts say the economic impact of these car accidents reaches nearly $40 billion per year. A recent American Automobile Association study suggests that almost everyone reaches for something, adjusts a control, or gets distracted while driving at some point, which is one of the reasons why distracted driving is such a big problem.

Efforts to Make Streets Safer from Distracted Driving

Distracted DrivingThe National Highway and Transportation Administration found that texting while driving is very similar to driving while intoxicated. In response to this alarming discovery, on January 1, 2014, the Illinois legislature attempted to make the streets safer by passing legislation to address the problem of driving while using a cell phone. Illinois banned drivers from using a cell phone to call someone or text someone while operating a motor vehicle, unless the person parked the car. Drivers over the age of 18 may use a hands-free device or bluetooth technology, but many critics consider these devices distraction and potentially dangerous. Even with hands-free technology, experts recommend that the driver pull over to somewhere safe to make a phone call. If a driver crashes because he or she is distracted, the driver may face criminal penalties and incarceration.

Can Illinois drivers ever use a cell phone while driving?

 

An Illinois driver may use a cell phone in the following situations:

  • Reporting an emergency situation
  • Using hands-free or in voice-activated mode
  • Parked safely on the shoulder of a roadway
  • Stopped due to normal traffic being obstructed and you put the vehicle in neutral or park

Has the new legislation helped decrease the number of traffic fatalities?

Unfortunately, the results of the new legislation underperformed in 2014. As a matter of fact, the number of traffic fatalities increased in Chicago. In 2015, there were fifty more fatalities that resulted from traffic accidents than in the previous year. Some state legislators have entertained the idea of passing new legislation that would impose even more severe penalties for distracted driving. Whether or not stricter penalties for distracted driving will reduce the number of car accidents is uncertain.

Are you a distracted driver?

Distracted DrivingWhen driving do you:

  • Shave?
  • Text or email?
  • Read or write?
  • Tune the radio?
  • Put on makeup?
  • Eat, drink, or smoke?
  • Talk on the cell phone?
  • Comb or brush your hair?
  • File, clip, or polish your nails?
  • Argue with another passenger?
  • Reach for the glove compartment?
  • Break up fights between your kids?
  • Put in contact lenses or eye drops?
  • Pick something up from the floor or between the seats?

If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, welcome to your status as a distracted driver. Almost every driver has engaged in at one point or another but any of these activities could easily lead to an accident. And some accidents can be fatal.

How do you avoid distracted driving?

To avoid being distracted, you can:

  • Limit interaction with other passengers
  • Avoid talking while driving
  • Avoid taking your eyes off the road
  • Keep both hands on the wheel

Most importantly, the idea of distracted driving needs to be taken as seriously as driving under the influence. Both driving while intoxicated and texting while driving can result in following too closely, not being able to brake on time, and weaving in and out of oncoming traffic. A recent study has found that drunk driving fatalities have decreased by 25% from 2002 to 2011, but distracted driving fatalities have increased by 22% from 2002 to 2011. Texting likely appears to cause the rise in distracted driving fatalities. With advances in technology, drivers easily get distracted behind the wheel, but drivers should always keep their eyes on the road and realize that a distraction could easily result in a death or serious injury.

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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