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How Michigan parents can keep their teen drivers safe

One of the most exciting milestones for teenagers here in Michigan is one of the most frightening times for their parents--obtaining their drivers' licenses.

New drivers, of course, have varying skill levels and are quite inexperienced on the roads. This, when coupled with the fact that teenagers buckle up far less often than adults, makes for a dangerous combination. In fact, one out of every five 16-year-old drivers will be in a car accident, according to the Michigan Department of State.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recently announced a three-tiered strategy to prevent teenage drivers from being injured or killed in car accidents.

The steps are:

  1. Increase seatbelt use among teens.
  2. Implement graduated driver license laws.
  3. Limit teens' access to alcohol and drugs.

While such a licensing program does already exist in Michigan, parents of teenagers can certainly influence seatbelt use and limit drug and alcohol use, as well as promote other safe driving behaviors.

It is important for parents of teenage drivers to lay down house rules regarding driving and alcohol and drugs; it is also important for parents to demonstrate safe driving behavior and ensure teens understand the facts and the laws.

According to NHTSA, motor vehicle accidents are actually the leading cause of death for young adults ages 16 to 20 in the U.S. The majority of teens involved in fatal car accidents are not wearing seatbelts.

Parents should make sure teens know that police have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to seatbelt use. Law enforcement officers pay special attention to roads and hangouts frequented by teens, and those who are caught without seatbelts will be fined. When it comes to alcohol, police in Michigan are very serious. Any involvement with alcohol by a driver between the ages of 16 and 20, even if they are simply possessing a beverage but have not consumed it, results in a driver's license suspension among other consequences.

In order to keep teens and others on the roads safe, it is important that parents talk to their young drivers about these issues.

Source: National Highway Safety Administration, "National Teen Driver Safety Week," 2012

  • Our Michigan law firm works with people who have been injured in car accidents to obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. When someone is killed in a car accident, his or her loved ones can also often obtain compensation for funeral expenses and related costs.

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