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Florida Teen Drivers Need Use Extra Caution During Tourist Season

While summer undoubtedly claims the top spot for teen driver crash rates, snowbird season in Florida means the winter months find our roadways a chaotic mix of slower senior motorists, tourists unfamiliar with the area and newly-licensed youth.

Our Royal Palm Beach injury lawyers know that simply having an influx of some 1 million people for three to six months out of the year is inevitably going to increase the number of accidents. What’s more, the state’s tourism industry reportedly drew nearly 90 million visitors to the state in 2011, many of them visiting during the winter, when the northern states are battling cold weather.

While older folks do tend to have more troubles with vision and reaction time, they also are generally more cautious. And tourists of course need to use every precaution to map their routes before heading out, check the weather reports and understand that just because they’re on vacation doesn’t mean the regular rules of the road don’t apply.

But often, it comes down to teens – the group with the highest fatal crash numbers in the country. It’s incumbent upon parents to drive home to their teens the importance of remaining alert, unimpaired and careful each and every time they pick up the keys and walk out the door.

A recent accident in Lake Worth involving a car full of teens resulted in one death and three serious injuries requiring hospitalization. While the details are still being sorted by authorities, we do know that the 18-year-old driver reportedly drifted off the roadway, sideswiped a tree and then slammed into a second tree, causing two passengers to be ejected from the vehicle. Tragically, a 19-year-old boy died at the scene.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teenagers are four times as likely to be involved in a traffic accident when compared to adult drivers. Motor vehicle crashes are in fact the leading cause of death for teenagers, each year claiming about 5,600 lives of those between the ages of 16 and 20. Many more are injured, as some 800,000 drivers between the ages of 15 and 18 were involved in traffic crashes in 2008.

Perhaps even more troubling is that even when you factor in inexperience, the vast majority of these wrecks are preventable.

We recognize that parents can’t be there to monitor their teen driver’s every move. However, creating a system of accountability early on can make a huge difference in not only keeping them safe now, but also establishing a foundation for better habits as they grow older. In fact, studies have shown that parental interest and involvement when their teen is first learning to drive plays a huge role in reducing the chances of a future crash.

We understand parents these days are incredibly busy, but this is one investment of your time that can make all the difference. The main points you want to drive home are these:
–Always remain alert to your environment, including the weather, unsafe drivers nearby and hazards on the roadway.
–Part of this means no distractions – no phone, no make-up, no eating, no chatting with friends.
–Never ever drive when you have consumed alcohol or drugs or when you may be too tired. Let them know you will always come and get them if need be.
–Keep your emotions in check behind the wheel. Pull over if you need a minute to compose yourself.
–Recognize when the weather or some other factor requires that you pull over.
–Never try to show off or take any intentional risk while you’re driving.
–Have respect for everyone else on the road, including other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Deputies ID teen killed in crash, Feb. 4, 2013, Staff Report, Sun Sentinel

More Blog Entries:
Seniors, Glaucoma and Increased Risks for Car Accidents, Jan. 23, 2013, Royal Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

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