Does your teenage driver know that car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in Oklahoma? Does he or she understand that many teens who are killed or injured in car crashes were passengers riding with a young driver at the wheel?
Teens are less experienced drivers and are more likely to make mistakes or take risks that cause traffic accidents. Most will learn with experience to drive cautiously, recognize dangerous traffic conditions and avoid overreacting to a minor driving mistake.
Graduated licensing in Oklahoma has helped give young drivers more responsibility gradually as they gain experience behind the wheel. Teens learn best from their parents. We hope you’ll share the safe driving tips for teens below.
Driving in Bad Weather — Slow Down
Oklahoma has its share of adverse weather. Even so, many teenage drivers get behind the wheel without ever having practiced driving in bad weather. The Federal Highway Administration says about one out of every five fatal car accidents is weather-related — caused by rain, sleet, snow, ice, fog or wind.
In inclement weather, it is crucial to slow down and leave more distance between your vehicle and the car ahead of yours. Visibility is diminished in bad weather and roads are likely to be wet and slippery. Lack of visibility makes it more difficult to recognize the need to brake, and reduced traction on wet or slippery roads means a vehicle needs more room to stop.
When you attempt to slow down on slick roads, it is important to apply brakes lightly. Braking abruptly on a wet or icy road can cause tires to lose traction and send a car into a skid. It is preferable to slow by easing off of the accelerator instead of braking. You should also avoid using cruise control on slippery roads because slowing from a cruise control setting requires braking.
If your car goes into a skid or hydroplanes on a water-covered roadway, try to remain calm and avoid braking. Steer the car in the direction you want to go and, when the tires grip the road again, gently accelerate to regain control of the vehicle.
Distracted Driving — Don’t Look Away
Driving while distracted is an error that too many teens make. Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.
The hazards of young drivers texting while driving and talking on cellphones get the most attention. Anything that causes a driver to look away from the road ahead or takes the driver’s concentration off of the task of driving is a distraction. This includes dealing with passengers, which is why Oklahoma limits the number of passengers a teenage driver can have in a vehicle.
An AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found that, compared to driving with no passengers, a 16- or 17-year-old driver’s risk of death per mile driven increases 44 percent when carrying one passenger younger than 21 (and no older passengers), doubles with two and quadruples with three. The risk decreases by 62 percent when a passenger aged 35 or older is in the vehicle.
Keep your eyes and mind on the road ahead. Don’t look away to talk, text, call, eat, drink, fix your hair or makeup, change the music, or for perform any activity not related to driving. A car going 55 mph covers 100 yards in 4 seconds, about the time it takes to look away to read a text or the artist and song title on an iPod.
Drinking and Driving — Zero Tolerance
Drinking and driving is incredibly dangerous and costly even if you are fortunate enough to be arrested before you injure yourself or someone else.
Oklahoma is one of several states with “zero tolerance” laws for underage drivers. It prohibits drivers younger than 21 years old from driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system and makes underage drinking and driving a criminal offense. Being arrested for drunk driving in Oklahoma can cost more than $10,000 in fines and fees.
Oklahoma’s zero tolerance law allows police to require a breath test from a driver younger than 21 if the officer has “probable cause” to believe the driver has been drinking. If the driver refuses the test or the test reveals any measurable alcohol level, the driver will be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and may be subject to penalties, including fines and losing his or her driver’s license.
What to Do After a Car Accident — Know Your Role
Chances are, a teen driver will get into a car accident. It will most likely be minor, a “fender bender,” but it could be more serious. Regardless of fault, a teen driver needs to know what to do and what not to do after a car crash.
A driver must stop after a car accident. A hit-and-run charge is a felony that could bring jail time, especially if the accident caused injury or death.
Check to see if anyone is injured and needs emergency medical treatment. If anyone is hurt, phone 911 for emergency medical care.
If no one has been hurt, and you are able to, move vehicles out of traffic. If you have been injured, cooperate with emergency responders, including letting them put you in an ambulance.
Treat the aftermath of an accident in a businesslike manner.
Exchange the following information with the other driver(s):
- Your name and address — and the car owner’s, if different
- Driver license number
- Vehicle registration number
- Insurance information card.
Do not get into any kind of argument with the other driver(s) or passengers. If the other driver refuses to exchange registration or insurance information, wait for police to arrive and obtain the information.
Take Accident Scene Photos
Before the vehicles are moved, use your phone camera to snap photos of the position of the cars, their damage, the accident scene and your injuries. Accident photos can be used later as evidence to support a claim for compensation. You only have a limited amount of time to take accident scene photos before the vehicles are removed.
If there are witnesses, get their names and contact information.
When police arrive, answer questions honestly but do not admit or accept blame for the accident. Do not blame anyone else. If you eventually talk to an insurance company representative, it is the same — be truthful but without blame or anger toward anyone.
After a car accident, keep it out of social media. If you have been injured, stay off social media altogether. You could easily post something that damages a potential insurance claim.
Contact an Oklahoma City Car Accident Lawyer
At Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons, we work with families after serious car crashes, and we have seen too many grieving parents after teen car accidents in Oklahoma City. If your teenage driver has been hurt in a motor vehicle accident, contact our respected personal injury law firm. Our attorneys protect accident victims from insurance companies, which may take advantage when teen drivers are involved. We also help families who have lost loved ones obtain compensation through wrongful death claims.
We offer a free, no obligation consultation to review your legal options. We are ready to meet with you wherever is most convenient, including at your home or in the hospital. Contact us now.