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How do you keep teen drivers safe during the holiday season?

As the festive season approaches, typical Washington teens hope to go to lots of holiday parties. Although they are all underage, many of them may still partake in the consumption of alcohol at these events. How can you teach your teen to be responsible during this season of merriment?

While you may think or assume that since your teen cannot legally consume alcohol he or she is not doing so, this might not necessarily be the case. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 10 high school students ages 16 and older drinks alcohol and then gets behind the wheel of a car. When their blood alcohol content reaches 0.08%, this makes drivers ages 16-20 much more likely to get into an accident - 17 times more likely, in fact. Therefore, it is imperative that you make sure your teen does not become part of that statistic.

The 3 types of distracted driving that lead to accidents

By now, essentially everyone realizes that distracted driving is a recipe for disaster. Still, it remains a major problem on roadways in Seattle and across the Evergreen State. In fact, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, 30% of traffic fatalities involve distracted driving. 

You may believe that avoiding distracted driving is as simple as stowing your smartphone while on the road. While doing so is a good idea, you must consider other types of distracted driving. Here are three of them: 

Your motorcycle helmet may not be as safe as you think

Most motorcycle enthusiasts recognize that a lot can go wrong on even short trips. Not only must you plan for sudden changes in weather and riding conditions, but you also must watch for distracted, careless or aggressive drivers. 

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Administration, despite accounting for only 3% of drivers on state roadways, motorcycle riders represented 15% of total traffic fatalities in 2017. Always wearing a helmet is an effective way to avoid a serious injury on a bike. Still, not all helmets offer the same protection for your head, neck, face and skull. When purchasing a helmet, therefore, you must look for one that has a safety rating. Three organizations test and approve riding helmets. 

A properly fitted helmet is integral to safety while biking

People are reminded all the time of the importance of wearing a helmet if they are riding their bike in Washington. What is interesting to note is that an ill-fitted helmet cannot provide nearly the protection as one that has been carefully selected to fit a person's head and face. 

There are many disadvantages when people choose a helmet solely to say that they own a helmet. A loose helmet can be uncomfortable, distracting and provide minimal protection if an accident does happen. If the helmet shifts or falls off completely, a person's head will not receive nearly the protection as if they had a snug-fitting helmet that was properly fastened to their head. 

Tips for preventing distracted driving among teenagers

Learning to drive is much different for today’s Washington teenagers than it was 10 or 20 years ago, because, back then, distractions such as cellphones simply did not exist. At Dean Standish Perkins & Associates, we understand that, as driving habits have changed through the years, so, too, have the dangers associated with driving. We also recognize that teaching teen drivers about the dangers of distracted driving early on can help them establish lifelong habits that will enhance their safety behind the wheel.

According to Nationwide Insurance, drivers under the age of 20 are more likely to find themselves involved in fatal distracted-driving-related car wrecks than older motorists. Part of this is likely due to the fact that teenagers and young adults, in general, are prone to distraction, and many of them have also grown accustomed to using their phones almost constantly.

Teaching kids to wear bike helmets

Getting around by bicycle is a common way of life for many residents of Washington, and if you are among those who prefer to get from here to there on two wheels, rather than four, you may be working to instill a similar mindset in your children. At Dean Standish Perkins & Associates, we recognize that the earlier you teach your child safe cycling practices, the more likely he or she will be to adopt them for life, and we also recognize the critical nature of teaching your children to wear bike helmets.

According to K5 News, bike crashes are the second-most-common cause of serious injuries in school-age children, and head injuries, which are common after bike wrecks, are the leading cause of bicycle-related fatalities among youths. The good news is, though, wearing a helmet can prevent about 85% of potential head injuries suffered in bike crashes, highlighting just how critical it is for adults and children alike to wear one every time they travel by bike.

How safe is it to travel by train?

When you need to get around Washington or the rest of the country, you have several options available to you depending on finances and your timeline, and you may decide, at least sometimes, to get to your destination by train. It may trouble you to know, however, that traveling by train is actually more dangerous than traveling by plane, and taking the bus, too, is typically a safer transportation option.

According to Time, traveling by train is actually four times more dangerous than traveling by bus, with 13 people losing their lives in Amtrak train crashes in the United States in 2014. That same year, there were only 0.11 bus fatalities for every billion passenger miles covered and only 0.7 commercial airplane fatalities for every billion passenger miles covered, revealing that both commercial air travel and bus travel are safer than train travel.

Drivers, cyclists must be vigilant at traffic signals

Even if you are a safe, responsible driver and you consistently follow the rules of the road, you still face unavoidable dangers when other motorists fail to exercise the same level of care behind the wheel. At Dean Standish Perkins & Associates, we understand that the number of fatalities caused by drivers who run red lights is at an all-time high, and that many red-light car crashes are avoidable and caused by the negligence of other motorists.

According to NBC News, 939 people lost their lives due to other drivers running red lights in the United States in 2017, which is the highest number of red-light-related deaths since 2008. It is also nearly 30% higher than the number of deaths linked to drivers running red lights that occurred in 2012, highlighting a troubling trend.

What do you know about car crashes and spinal cord injury?

Since September is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness month, it seems fitting to learn a little more about this serious issue.

For example, of the many ways a spinal cord injury, or SCI, can occur, you may not know that a motor vehicle crash is the most common cause. It may also surprise you to learn what age group is most affected.

Automated vehicle levels and safety

Most residents in Washington State have likely heard a lot of talk or read many articles about the emergence of autonomous vehicles. They may not be aware that they have even seen vehicles on the road with some levels of autonomous capability. This is due, in part, to the fact that there are multiple levels of autonomy and some still require the involvement of human drivers. While these vehicles are touted as a means to improve safety on the road, that may not be as straightforward as it sounds and the different levels of autonomy may contribute to that.

As explained by Consumer Reports, autonomy in vehicles is ranked from level 0 to level 5 with only the latter being completely able to operate with no human interaction in any situation, on any road or highway. Many new cars identified as level 1 vehicles today feature things like adaptive cruise control. More advanced autonomous driving systems, like those in some Teslas, are generally level 2.

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