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Teen drivers in NY: Two things to know about car crashes

Getting a drivers' license is a momentous occasion. Teenagers take courses and study for a written test, they practice behind the wheel and take a practical test and if they pass both they get to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) desk to fill out paperwork, take a photo and get their drivers' license.

Although the entire process leads to a moment worth celebrating - the ability to drive on your own - it is important to appreciate the seriousness of what comes next. Driving is a huge responsibility and a failure to do so safely can come with tragic consequences. Three things young drivers and parents should discuss prior to letting these drivers enjoy their newfound freedom are outlined below.

#1: The risks are high.

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) notes car accidents are the top cause of unintentional teen death. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) reports the primary causes of accidents for drivers aged 16 - 17 years of age included:

  • Driving at an unsafe speed
  • Inexperience
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Alcohol use

Parents can help better ensure the safety of their new drivers by having discussions about these dangers. It is also important to remind young drivers about the importance of proper seatbelt use as well as the dangers of distracted or drowsy driving.

#2: Things are different this year, making the need to focus while driving even more important.

The current coronavirus pandemic has made this even more difficult. DMVs throughout the state are closed or at minimal operations and it may be difficult to get out and get behind the wheel practice needed to transition into safely driving on one's own. Parents can help to better ensure their young drivers are ready by using the probationary driving period to help them get more valuable driving experience in safe settings.

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