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Tips to Prevent Car Wrecks for Student Drivers

In Tennessee, reported car crashes that involved a teenage driver under the age of 18 were occurring at a rate of more than 38 accidents per day across the state (2019). The top two culprits behind the crashes = distractions and inexperience.

In general, teen drivers are known to be one of the most at-risk groups for car accidents. But, if you are a teenager, this fact alone does not automatically make you an unsafe driver. You can do this! 

Bart Durham Injury Law has put together some driving tips for Tennessee student drivers that can immediately improve your awareness – and safety – if you incorporate them while driving:

  1. Minimize Distractions
  2. Memorize Right-of-Way Rules
  3. Drive Defensively

Contact us for a free consultation if you have been involved in an automobile accident!

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Minimize Distractions

Distractions and driving do not mix. The proof is in the fact that thousands of people are killed every year in car crashes because of distractions. In 2020, distracted driving accounted for 8% of fatal crashes in the U.S. 

If your first idea of a distraction is your phone, you would be right: One out of every four accidents in the U.S. is caused by a distraction from a cell phone. In Tennessee, the “Hands Free Law” makes it illegal for drivers to do the following while operating a vehicle: 

  • Hold a cellphone or mobile device
  • Write, send, or read any text-based communication
  • Watch a video or movie
  • Record or broadcast video 

At the same time, other prime examples of dangerous and distracted driving include: using a GPS, eating, applying cosmetics, adjusting audio and climate controls, and riding with an unrestrained pet.

Some of the best things you can do to minimize distractions are using Apple Carplay or a Bluetooth device for hands-free phone calls, setting your AC and adjusting your entertainment (music/podcasts) before you hit the road, and focusing your attention on what matters most: driving safely and aware of your surroundings

Memorize Right-of-Way Rules

What are “right-of-way” rules, exactly? They are an incredibly important set of road rules that promote safety by defining who has the “right” to the “roadway,” whether they be motorists, pedestrians, or emergency vehicles. In a few words, these rules are intended to help minimize confusion in various situations. 

Situations where right-of-way rules should apply occur often. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that failing to yield the right-of-way ranked as the #3 and #4 reasons for deadly car crashes behind (#1) driving too fast and (#2) driving under the influence. 

While some right-of-way rules are more straightforward than others, all are equally important. Here are a few common examples of right-of-way rules that require yielding or stopping altogether for your safety and the safety of others:

YIELD:

  • To the first vehicle(s) that arrives at an intersection in a two-, three-, or four-way stop. Yield to the vehicle on your right if you both arrive at the same time.   
  • To on-coming traffic and pedestrians when making a left-turn at an intersection (both at traffic lights and stop signs).
  • To a pedestrian who enters the road using a designated crosswalk or unmarked crossing. This also applies if they are crossing an alley, sidewalk, parking lot, or driveway.
  • When entering a highway/interstate with moving traffic via an on-ramp/access road, especially if there is no lane dedicated for you to enter the highway/interstate. 
  • To vehicles already driving in a traffic circle/roundabout.

STOP:

  • For emergency vehicles responding to an emergency (ambulance, police, fire trucks) by pulling over to the edge of the road. This is the case whether you are on the same or opposite side of the road from the emergency vehicle. 
  • For a school bus picking-up or dropping-off passengers. This is the case whether you are on the same or opposite side of the road from the school bus. 
  • Before making a right-turn at an intersection with a red light.  

Drive Defensively

If you have heard someone say, “drive defensively,” you may be confused about what that means. No, it doesn’t mean blocking anyone.

Defensive driving means keeping your eyes on the road and proactively looking for potential hazards to prevent an accident. Defensive drivers do not assume that other drivers will follow the rules of the road. Instead, they watch for other drivers to make mistakes and anticipate how they will react in order to protect themselves and others. 

What does defensive driving look like, then? How can you do this in a practical way when you can’t know for sure what other drivers might do wrong? Here are a few tips!

  • Keep at least a 2-second distance between you and other drivers. 
  • Brake earlier than necessary, especially anticipate slower braking time in various weather conditions (rain, sleet, snow). 
  • When not accelerating, hover your foot over the brake. 
  • Check your blind spots by looking over your shoulder when changing lanes – even if the last time you checked no drivers were present. 
  • Have an “escape”; be ready to make a quick maneuver in a hazardous situation.

Contact a personal injury lawyer at Bart Durham Law today if you experienced injuries from a car or pedestrian accident and have questions regarding liability.

Contact Bart Durham Injury Law Today

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