“In-season” in Florida naturally brings more drivers on the road, increasing the risk of automobile accidents. Holidays and student events, such as homecoming, also mean we’ll see more teen drivers on the road.
Our Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers and Fort Myers car accident attorneys frequently write about the dangers of car accidents among teenagers. Heading into the holiday season, and the winter tourist season, we encourage you to make safe driving conversations a regular part of your interaction with your teenagers.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 5,864 15-to-20-year-old drivers were involved in fatal crashes in 2008 and 2,739 15-to-20-year-old drivers were killed. An additional 228,000 were injured.
As we often report, car accidents are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 to 20.
So how do parents minimize the risk that their teenage children will be involved in an automobile accident? According to an article in USA Today, parents are increasingly turning to a low-tech solution in today’s high-tech world: parent-teen driving contracts.
The contracts are designed to govern almost every aspect of a teen’s driving, from prohibitions of drugs, alcohol, and texting while driving to what passengers are allowed to when car payments must be made. For parents, the contracts provide an element of predictability, because their teen drivers know exactly what is expected of them and what the consequences for non-compliance are. For teen drivers, the contracts provide boundaries and pre-determined consequences for exceeding those boundaries.
“It’s a way for parents and teens to engage each other and agree on what the consequences are,” according to Arlene Greenspan, a senior scientist with the Injury Center at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Injury Center. “Writing it down clarifies for everybody what the rules are.”
The contracts are typically modified as teen drivers gain experience, with parents easing restrictions as a reward for compliance.
Parent-teen contracts are available from AAA, most insurance companies, and the CDC. Here is an example of a Florida parent-teen driving contract.
With the increase in drivers on Florida roads, the risk of accidents also increases. Even if you don’t draw up a formal contract, we encourage you to spend extra time talking with your teen driver about your expectations and responsibilities of driving.