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Learning to drive is a key rite of passage for North Carolina teenagers. It marks the transition from childhood and the recognition that the teenager is ready for some adult responsibilities. Most young people embrace the opportunity.

However, this is not always a completely positive experience. Auto accidents are the most common cause of death for American teens, accounting for a third of all fatalities in the age group. The Centers for Disease Control points out that it’s not just that teenagers are injured as passengers in traffic crashes; as drivers, teens aged 16 to 19 have four times the accident rate of older drivers. In 2009, more than 350,000 teenagers were treated in emergency rooms for traffic-accident injuries; about 3,000 teenagers died.

A Special Focus on North Carolina Teenage Driving

Researchers for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety looked at the accident rates of new drivers in North Carolina, and the results are dismaying. The scientists found that teen drivers are most likely to have a North Carolina traffic crash immediately after being allowed to drive without supervision. The risk of a crash was 50 percent greater in the first month of driving than in the first year, and almost twice greater than in the first two years.

The researchers also found that the majority of accidents caused by young drivers—57 percent—was due to just three categories of mistakes.

  • Failure to reduce speed
  • Inattention
  • Failure to yield

The Role of Parents

The North Carolina graduated license system is one means of attempting to guarantee that teenagers have adequate preparation before driving without supervision. Scientific studies generally show that graduated licenses make for safer teen drivers. However, we cannot expect state government to take on the entire burden.

Parents are the primary influence on how a teen develops good driving habits. When your son or daughter gains a limited learner permit, then it is time to start a serious conversation about safety on the road. The best reinforcement for these talks, of course, is a parent’s example of good driving behavior.

The AAA Foundation has additional recommendations for parents whose children are learning to drive responsibly:

  • Practice driving—a lot. Don’t just ride along a few times, until your teen qualifies for her provisional license. Ride along frequently, even after she can drive unaccompanied by an adult, so you can share strategies and experiences in driving under varied conditions.
  • Don’t be afraid to set limits. Parents should set rules more stringent than state laws until a teen demonstrates the ability to handle new driving conditions. You may want to establish restrictions on driving in stormy weather, city driving, highway driving, and so on.

When Driving Skill Isn’t Enough

It’s not uncommon for a novice driver to do everything right, yet still get involved in a serious automobile accident. If your teenager was injured in a North Carolina traffic crash due to the errors of another driver, a Wilmington car accident lawyer from the Speaks Law Firm may be able to help you gain financial recovery for your losses. Call us today at (877) 593-4233 to set up a free consultation with one of our North Carolina personal injury attorneys. We’d also be glad to send you a copy of The North Carolina Auto Injury Book, FREE at your request.