Teenagers and being a safe passenger

Teens who are safe drivers may forget about the importance of being a safe passenger. For example, they may not realize they are distracting a driver.

Virginia has many fine high schools such as Patrick Henry, William Fleming, William Byrd, Northside and Lord Botetourt. Many of the teenage students at these schools have driver's licenses and access to cars, and there is no doubt that quite a few drive responsibly.

But are they responsible and smart passengers? Peer pressure can cause anyone of any age, but perhaps especially teenagers, to make poor choices. Here is a look at unsafe situations teenage passengers can get into.

Driving with someone intoxicated

There has been a party or maybe just a small get-together of teenagers and young adults. A teenager may feel nervous about getting into a car driven by someone who appears intoxicated. Furthermore, the teen may feel too overwhelmed to speak up about it. Ideally, everything goes well, and nothing happens. What happens sometimes, though, could be a car accident that injures people in the car and others on the road.

One thing parents can do is to emphasize to their teenagers that the parents are available anytime to come pick up their teens. All they have to do is call or text. Even a seemingly innocuous code phrase can enable a teen to send a quick text letting his or her parents know that trouble is brewing.

Being a distraction

Distracted driving is a big issue, and unfortunately, passengers may not realize they are being a distraction (or the extent to which they are being a distraction). Parents can talk with their teenagers about the dangers of, say, chatting constantly or engaging in wild behavior. It can also be a good idea for parents to set a rule that their teenage driver can have only one passenger in the car at a time, and similarly, should be the only passenger in a car driven by a friend.

Not following basic safety rules

Wearing a seat belt is a part of basic safety, but not everyone does it. One of the most important things parents can do in this regard, if not the most important, is to be excellent models. That is, parents should always buckle up themselves and require that their children and other passengers do the same. That way, teenage passengers, no matter where they are or who they are with, will buckle up without even thinking about it. (According to a CDC report, Virginia drivers and front-seat passengers use their seat belts at a rate of 78 percent, below the national average of 86 percent.)

It is always a tragedy in Virginia when anyone gets injured or killed in a car accident. The injury or loss may be even harder to understand when the person is a teenager in the prime of his or her life. Daniel L. Crandall & Associates may be able to help those affected seek compensation.