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Safety awareness for teen drivers and their families

New Jersey motorists may recognize that driving while texting is dangerous, but this does not necessarily cause them to make safe decisions with regard to smartphone use in their vehicles. Statistics for 2015 reflect a sudden increase in driving fatalities after many years of decreasing numbers. Data collected for the year indicates that the most negatively affected group is that of teen drivers, a group that suffered a 10-percent increase in driving fatalities from the previous year.

Understanding the causes of these driving fatalities may help in planning safety efforts such as National Teen Driver Safety Week, which occurs in late October. Additionally, it is important for families to focus on safety for teen drivers throughout the year. Distracted driving is one of the most significant areas resulting in increased fatality accident numbers. Nearly 9 percent of driving deaths were caused by distractions such as text messaging. Failure to use seat belts contributed to approximately 5 percent of driving fatalities. Speeding and driving while impaired each contributed to another 3 percent of the deaths. Collectively, these driving behaviors all fall into the realm of human choice.

Motor vehicle accident prevention among teens begins with good modeling by parents and other adults. Smartphone use while driving, for example, sets an example that could cause a teen driver to disregard safety standards. Requiring all passengers to use seat belts before driving is an example of modeling positive decision making as well. A frank discussion with one's children could also be beneficial in communicating the potential consequences for just a brief action such as texting and driving.

An individual injured in an auto accident by a teen driver might have legal grounds to file personal injury action against the parents of that teen. An attorney can ascertain whether either the family purpose doctrine or negligent entrustment would apply to a particular set of circumstances.

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