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Teen drivers take many dangerous chances

Your summer may have been a busy one. Whether you worked straight through or had the opportunity to take some time off to relax, you may now be looking back and admiring what you accomplished. Maybe you did some home improvements, lost a few pounds or earned a promotion. Whatever you achieved, you know that it can mean positive changes for you.

However, you are not the only one who accomplished something over the past few months. Hundreds of Washington teenagers completed their driver's education over the summer and are heading back to school with shiny new licenses in their pockets. Some may have even received a vehicle in celebration of obtaining this milestone. You may have many jokes about dangerous teenage drivers, but studies show that the risk is no joke.

Sharing the road with new drivers

Perhaps the most common issue with teen drivers is that they are not conscious of their own inexperience behind the wheel. This often means they are willing to take chances that can lead to tragic consequences. For example, a new driver may not be able to accurately judge how far he or she travels without looking at the road, or a teen may not yet have the instincts to avoid a collision. This places you and your family in danger.

New drivers may be more likely to cause an accident when they engage in common risky behaviors while driving, including these:

  • Listening to music with headphones prevents a driver from hearing emergency vehicles or other roadway sounds.
  • Changing clothes, while effortless in one's bedroom, can prevent a new driver from controlling the vehicle if he or she should become tangled.
  • Grooming, such as shaving or putting on makeup, requires long periods of looking at oneself and may obstruct a novice driver's vision.
  • Allowing a dog or child to sit in his or her lap while driving establishes an unpredictable situation that may rob the driver of control of the vehicle.
  • Eating and drinking while driving can triple a new driver's chances of causing an accident that places you and others in danger.

New drivers are more likely to engage in other behaviors such as using their knees to steer, reaching for objects on the floor of the car or gawking at activity outside the vehicle. Of course, the most frequent safety violation among teens and new drivers is using their mobile devices to send and receive messages, surf the web, and use various apps.

The youth and inexperience of a new driver may cause him or her to feel invincible with the new freedom and power of operating a motor vehicle. Nevertheless, if such carelessness behind the wheel results in injury to you or a loved one, you have every right to seek legal advice about your best options for pursuing justice.