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Car Accidents: Top Mistakes New Drivers Make


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Handing over the keys to a newly licensed driver can be a nerve-wracking experience – and for good reason. Statistics show that car accidents are a leading cause of preventable injuries among young Americans. While this may be due in part to teens and young adults being more inclined to take risks, a great deal of it has to do with inexperience behind the wheel. As such, parents and novice drivers can take steps to protect themselves and others on the road by brushing up on their driving abilities and avoiding common mistakes.

Common driving mistakes made by new drivers include:

  • Driving distracted – Distracted driving has become a problem of epidemic proportion. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distraction behind the wheel plays a role in hundreds of thousands of accidents each year. What’s more, experts believe the problem is getting worse, especially among younger motorists who text and use smart phones. When addressing the problem, new drivers should understand that distracted driving substantially increases risks of wrecks, injuries, and deaths. The profound and life-changing consequences that can accompany distracted driving, both for drivers and for victims and their families, is never worth it. Waiting until you arrive at your destination or pulling over to the side of the road before using a phone is should always be a priority. Additionally, new drivers should know that text messaging while driving is prohibited for all drivers in Michigan, and all cell phone use is prohibited for level 1 and 2 license holders. Whether its texting, cell phone use, eating or drinking, or any other form of distraction, there are dangers involved. Driving should be the only task when behind the wheel.

  • Speeding– Younger drivers are may be more inclined to speed than older motorists who have experience and an understanding of the risks involved. New drivers need to be vigilant of driving at or below the speed limit, especially under certain circumstances when lower speeds are safer. These include school and construction zones, heavy traffic, poor weather, and other areas where lower speed limit signs are posted.

  • Risk-taking – In addition to speeding, inexperienced drivers are more likely to take unreasonable risks when behind the wheel. However, pulling out into traffic without ensuring that the coast is clear, failing to check blind spots prior to turns or lane changes, failing to use turn signals, and other risky behaviors substantially increase crash risks. It is important to remember that no driving action should be taken without properly scanning one’s surroundings and making sure that it is safe to move.

  • Driving tired – Numerous studies, including one from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, has found that driving tired can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. Because teens and young adults may stay up later, they can be fatigued when it comes time to get behind the wheel, especially when they have to get to school in the morning. Ensuring young drivers get enough rest is critical to their safety, and making sure they know they can arrange for other transportation or pull over to the side of the road when they feel fatigue compromises their ability to drive safely is important.

  • Having passengers – Passengers can create distraction risks for new drivers, especially when they take their hands, eyes, and mental attention off the wheel and the road. Because Michigan lawmakers understand that teens may be more likely to become distracted when fellow teens are in the car, there are now laws in place that prohibit level 2 licensed drivers from having more than one passenger 21 or younger in their vehicle, except when with a parent or guardian, immediate family members, or while driving for work or authorized activities.

  • Impaired driving – Though some new drivers may be too young to legally consume alcohol, that hasn’t stopped thousands of teen motorists from being injured and killed in drunk driving accidents. Teens need to understand the overwhelming risks associated with drunk driving, as well as driving under the influence of marijuana, drugs, and prescription medications, and that they can face criminal charges for doing so. Parents can speak with their children about avoiding these risks, and that options like rideshare services, taxis, or even a ride from mom and dad are preferable to getting behind the wheel when under the influence.

Even when new drivers make it a priority to avoid mistakes and operate their vehicles safely, they can still be harmed in accidents involving the negligence of others. At Goodman Acker, P.C. our Detroit car accident lawyers are readily available to help victims and families following preventable wrecks. To discuss a potential case, contact us for a FREE consultation.