Teen Driver Safety: Best Practices for Staying Safe on the Road

October 21, 2020 | 10:59 am


Your child is all grown and ready drive. You may be thinking: Where did the time go? But parents should also be thinking about safety.  Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of teen injuries and deaths. In fact, nearly six teen drivers are involved in a fatal car crash every day in the United States.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is joining local law enforcement and safety organizations for Teen Driver Safety Week and beyond in bringing awareness of the dangers teen drivers face, and how to better keep our children safe.

“Every parents’ highest priority is the safety of their children, and since the single greatest risk to each teenager is on the roadway, we should all be devoted to reducing the dangers,” said David Cohn, managing partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “At driving age, our children need us more than ever. Make sure your kids know the best practices for staying safe.”

Experts say teenage drivers are inherently immature, lack experience, engage in risky behaviors, and often think of themselves as invincible. In particular, there are six dangers that are especially important for teens to understand: alcohol, inconsistent or no seat belt use, distracted and drowsy driving, speeding, and number of passengers:

  • Alcohol and DrugsAll teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol. However, nationally 15% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system. But alcohol isn’t the only substance that can keep teens from driving safely. Like other drugs, marijuana affects a driver’s ability to react to their surroundings. Remind teens that driving under the influence of any impairing substance could have deadly consequences.
  • Seat Belts: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. The chances of surviving a traffic crash are 45% higher when properly restrained in a seat belt. Tell your teen driver they must buckle up, every ride, every time.
  • Distracted Driving: Distractions while driving are more than just risky — they can be deadly. The use of mobile devices while driving is a big problem, but there are other causes of teen distracted driving which pose dangers as well. They include adjusting the radio, applying makeup, eating or drinking, or distractions from other passengers in the vehicle. Explain the dangers of driving distracted by phones and texting or anything else, and that driving attentively is essential for safe driving
  • Speeding: Speeding was a factor in about one-third of all fatal teen driver crashes. Faster speeds rob inexperienced teen drivers of the extra reaction time they may need to avoid a crash. Emphasize that they must obey posted speed limits.
  • Passengers: Teen drivers transporting passengers can lead to disastrous results.  Research shows the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of passengers in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers. Passengers can serve as another distraction for inexperienced teen drivers. That’s why many states have graduated driver licensing restrictions, which prohibit any passengers in vehicles with teen drivers.
  • Drowsy Driving: Teens are busier than ever: studying, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and spending time with friends are among the long list of things they do to fill their time. However, with all of these activities, teens tend to compromise something very important — sleep. This is a dangerous habit that can lead to drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel. People are most likely to feel drowsy between the hours of 2 and 6 p.m., which is generally when teens are driving home from school. Explain the dangers of driving drowsy before your teen driver takes the wheel.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently awarded 11 drivers education scholarships as part of the new “Guided Partners in Safety (GPS) Scholarship” program aimed to support a new generation of teen drivers, build guided partners in safety, and help pay for student driver’s education training, while keeping safety at the forefront.

“Our goal was to help those in need, and reinforce the importance of talking to teen drivers about the responsibilities, rules, and consequences that come with getting behind the steering wheel,” said Matt Clark, Chain | Cohn | Stiles senior partner and personal injury attorney. “We hope this program will help at least a little in lowering the statistics locally.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has advice in the case you or your teen are involved in an auto accident. Remember to take the following 3 steps if you have been involved in an automobile accident or motor vehicle accident:

  • Obtain the name, address, insurance information, vehicle identification number (VIN) and driver’s license number of any and all persons involved in the accident, as well as the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.
  • Make sure that a report is filed with the police, sheriff, or highway patrol, but DO NOT talk to anyone else (especially insurance adjusters) about the accident or sign anything without first consulting an attorney.
  • Seek medical attention immediately and explain to your physician or surgeon all of the symptoms and complaints you have been feeling since the accident occurred.

———

‘U Drive U Text U Pay’: Officials cracking down on dangerous distracted driving

October 7, 2020 | 10:05 am


At any given moment across the United States, about 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And on a typical day, more than 700 people are injured in distracted driving crashes. Even more, nearly 3,000 people are killed and an estimated 400,000 are injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Simply, distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roadways because distracted drivers aren’t just a threat to themselves, they’re a danger to everyone else on the road.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is joining national distracted driving efforts focusing on ways to change the behavior of drivers through legislation, enforcement, public awareness, and education.

“Talking on a phone, even while using a hands-free device, or texting or using an infotainment system in your vehicle diverts your attention away from driving,” said Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner and attorney David Cohn. “Please focus on the road, and just drive.”

Locally, Bakersfield Police Department is stepping up patrols in search of distracted drivers in support of the NHTSA’s “U Drive U Text U Pay” enforcement campaign, according to the department. BPD is joining other law enforcement agencies across California in increase enforcement of distracted driving laws. In particular, officers will be looking out for drivers who break the state’s hands-free cellphone law.

Distracted driving is especially dangerous for younger drivers. In fact, drivers 15 to 19 years old are involved in more fatal crashes involving distractions than any other age group. To help, Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently awarded 11 drivers education scholarships as part of the new “Guided Partners in Safety (GPS) Scholarship” program aimed to help pay for student driver’s education training, while keeping safety at the forefront.

California law prohibits all motorists from using a cellphone while driving, except when used in hands-free mode. A first offense results in a $20 fine, and for a second or subsequent offense, the fine is $50. For violations that occur on or after July 1, 2021, the DMV will assess one point if the violation was within 36 months of a prior conviction. Emergency service professionals are exempt from the cellphone ban while operating an authorized emergency vehicle.

Here’s what you can do to eliminate distracted driving from your travels (courtesy of AARP).

  • Unplug: Keep your cell phone on silent and where you can’t see it light up for every notification you receive. If a phone call or text message is really important, it’s best to pull over into a safe location before using your phone.
  • Refuel: Drowsy driving is distracted driving, so never drive when you’re too tired.
  • Focus: When you’re behind the wheel, pay attention to what’s happening all around your vehicle. Frequently scan your mirrors and watch your speed.
  • Secure your cargo: Prevent loose items in your car from startling you in the event of sudden braking by securing your cargo. Also, never place smaller items on your lap or on the floor near the driver-side foot pedals.

———

Chain | Cohn | Stiles awards 11 drivers education scholarships in new ‘Guided Partners in Safety’ (GPS) program

August 12, 2020 | 5:00 am


The Law Office of Chain | Cohn | Stiles has awarded 11 drivers education scholarships as part of the new “Guided Partners in Safety (GPS) Scholarship” program.

The scholarships program aims to support a new generation of teen drivers, build guided partners in safety, and help pay for student driver’s education training, while keeping safety at the forefront. Over 150 area high students applied for the inaugural “GPS Scholarship” program. The winners, chosen based on grades, essay impact, and financial need included:

  • Roger Alvarado – Wonderful College Prep Academy
  • Jennifer Cazarez – South High
  • Fatima Garcia – Golden Valley High
  • Jessica Gamino – West High
  • Mayeli Gutierrez Ibarra – Foothill High
  • Allan Morales – South High
  • Leslie Cholico Navarro – Arvin High
  • Emily Ortiz – Foothill High
  • Martin Tellez – Highland High
  • Tiffany Wright – Highland High
  • Heidi Vega – Mira Monte High School

Being able to obtain permission to drive will benefit the students in various ways, they shared in their applications. West High student Jessica Gamino said, “I’ve wanted to get a job … If I could drive, so many opportunities could be available to me.” Roger Alvarado, of Wonderful College Prep, said he wants to drive to help his family, and prepare for adulthood.

“Many teenagers underestimate the risk of driving and exhibit dangerous habits,” Alvarado said in his application. “By entering driving school I will diminish the risks of danger, assist my family and become independent.

For Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which represents victims of accidents throughout the Central Valley, safety of our youth is a top priority. Auto accidents are the No. 1 killer of American teenagers, according to national statistics. Distracted driving, excessive speed, and lack of seatbelt use are major dangers and causes of teen driver crashes. Additionally, the number of teen drivers nationally is on the decline, with the cost associated to driving as one key factor, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The message of teen driving safety is even more important during the “100 Deadliest Days” – the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when more than 8,300 people have died in crashes involving teen drivers from 2008 to 2018. That’s more than seven people per day each summer.

“Our goal was to help those in need, and reinforce the importance of talking to teen drivers about the responsibilities, rules, and consequences that come with getting behind the steering wheel,” said David Cohn, managing partner and personal injury attorney. “We hope this program will help at least a little in lowering the statistics locally.”

For information on the 2021 GPS Scholarship, please stay tuned to the firm’s social media, including on Facebook @GPSscholarship, at the start of 2021.

———

If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

———

MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles launches unique scholarship to support a new generation of young drivers in Kern County

January 22, 2020 | 6:00 am


The application period for the scholarship has ended. Please tune in to chainlaw.com in January 2021 for more scholarship opportunities.

El período para aplicar para la beca ha terminado. Visite abogadosenbakersfield.com en Enero 2021 para más oportunidades de becas.

———

Chain | Cohn | Stiles launches unique scholarship to support a new generation of young drivers in Kern County

One-of-a-kind “GPS scholarship” aims to curb the financial burden of driver’s education, with a focus on safety

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. – The Law Office of Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which focuses on helping accident and injury victims in the Central Valley, has launched a new scholarship called the “Guided Partners in Safety (GPS) Scholarship,” which is aimed to financially support local high school students through their driver’s education training while keeping safety at the forefront.

Auto accidents are the No. 1 killer of American teenagers, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Association. In fact, six teenagers aged 16 to 19 die every day in the United States from motor vehicle crash injuries. Distracted driving, excessive speed, and lack of seatbelt use are major dangers and causes of teen driver crashes.

In addition, budget cuts have caused schools to eliminate driver’s education programs, leading students to seek third-party instruction. As a result, teens from lower-income households may not be able to fully enjoy this rite of passage. In fact, the number of teen drivers nationally is on the decline, with the cost associated to driving as one key factor, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Today, nearly half as many 16-year-olds are getting a driver’s license than 30 years ago, according to a study by the University of Michigan.

The GPS Scholarship aims to support a new generation of teen drivers, build guided partners in safety, and help pay for student driver’s education.

“The safety of our youth is a top concern,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Our goal is to help those in need, and at the same time reinforce the importance of talking to teen drivers about the responsibilities, rules, and consequences that come with getting behind the steering wheel.”

Among the qualifications, applicants must:

  • Have at least a 2.5 GPA
  • Be enrolled in a Kern County high school
  • Write a 200-word (max) creative essay answering: “Why do you want to drive?”
  • Apply by clicking here. Questions can be emailed to gpsscholarship2020@gmail.com.

The deadline to apply is March 31. Other state qualifications for driving apply. Scholarship recipients must attend and observe a Victim Impact Panel hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County.

You can view the GPS Scholarship flier by clicking here.

———

Chain | Cohn | Stiles lanza una beca única para apoyar a una nueva generación de conductores jóvenes en el condado de Kern

“Beca GPS” tiene como objetivo frenar la carga financiera de la educación del conductor, con un enfoque en la seguridad

El despacho de abogados Chain | Cohn | Stiles, que se enfoca en ayudar a las víctimas de accidentes y lesiones en el Valle Central, ha lanzado una nueva beca llamada “Beca de Socios Guiados en Seguridad,” que tiene como objetivo apoyar financieramente a los estudiantes locales de secundaria a través de la capacitación educativa para conductores mientras se mantiene seguridad a la vanguardia.

Los accidentes automovilísticos son el asesino número uno de los adolescentes estadounidenses, según la Asociación Nacional de Seguridad del Tráfico en Carreteras. De hecho, seis adolescentes de 16 a 19 años mueren todos los días en los Estados Unidos a causa de accidentes automovilísticos. La conducción distraída, la velocidad excesiva y la falta de uso del cinturón de seguridad son los principales peligros y causas de los choques de los conductores adolescentes.

Además, recortes de presupuesto han provocado que las escuelas eliminen los programas de clases de manejo, lo que lleva a los estudiantes a buscar instrucción de terceros. Como resultado, es posible que los adolescentes de hogares de bajos ingresos no puedan disfrutar plenamente de este rito de iniciación. De hecho, el número de conductores adolescentes a nivel nacional está disminuyendo, con el costo asociado a la conducción como un factor clave, según la Fundación AAA para la Seguridad del Tráfico. Hoy, casi la mitad de los jóvenes de 16 años obtienen una licencia de conducir que los de hace 30 años, según un estudio de la Universidad de Michigan.

La beca GPS tiene como objetivo apoyar a una nueva generación de conductores adolescentes, crear socios guiados en seguridad y ayudar a pagar la educación de los estudiantes.

“La seguridad de nuestra juventud es una preocupación principal”, dijo David Cohn, socio gerente de Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Nuestro objetivo es ayudar a los necesitados y, al mismo tiempo, reforzar la importancia de hablar con los conductores adolescentes sobre las responsabilidades, las reglas y las consecuencias que conlleva ponerse al volante”.

Entre las calificaciones, los solicitantes deben:

  • Tener un promedio de calificaciones de 2.5
  • Estar inscrito en una escuela secundaria del condado de Kern
  • Escribir un ensayo creativo de 200 palabras (máximo) respondiendo: “¿Por qué quieres conducir?”
  • Aplica aquí. Preguntas se pueden mandar a gpsscholarship2020@gmail.com.

La fecha límite para presentar la solicitud es el 31 de marzo. Se aplican otras calificaciones estatales para conducir. Los beneficiarios de la beca deben observar un Panel de Impacto de Víctimas organizado por Madres Contra Conducir Ebrio, Conado de Kern.

Puede ver el folleto de la beca GPS haciendo clic aquí.

———

If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Si usted o alguien que conoce se lastima en un accidente, llame a los abogados de Chain | Cohn | Stiles al (661) 323-4000, o visita la página chainlaw.com.

———

MEDIA COVERAGE

———

* Notice: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.⁣

* Aviso: Hacer un reclamo falso o fraudulento de compensación para trabajadores es un crimen grave sujeto a un máximo de 5 años de prisión o una multa de hasta $150,000 o el doble del valor del fraude, el que sea mayor, o tanto por el encarcelamiento y multa.

‘100 Deadliest Days’: Summer period especially dangerous time for young drivers

May 29, 2019 | 5:04 pm


Did you know that the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the “100 Deadliest Days” in the United States?

During this time span, which largely includes the summertime, our country’s roadways see a sharp increase in automobile fatalities, many involving teen drivers, according to AAA.

For example, in 2016 during this time period more than 1,050 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver. That’s an average of 10 people per day – a 14 percent increase compared to the rest of the year, according to the AAA.

What are the reasons for the sharp increase?

It’s not that more teens are driving for longer periods in the summer with school out. In fact, driving behavior greatly increases the risk of a crash, AAA states. Distracted driving, inexperience, driving under the influence, not using safety belts, and driving in adverse conditions are the primary reasons.

Bakersfield’s 23ABC News reporter Lezly Gooden examined this annual issue, and discussed what we can do to decrease the numbers. The report also featured Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury Matt Clark, representing MADD Kern County as a board member regarding the alarming DUI-rates in Kern County, which sees more than 4,000 DUI arrests per year. Additionally, Kern County’s rate of DUI-related fatal crashes is the second highest in the country, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office.

“The statistics are frankly embarrassing for our county,” said Matt Clark in the 23ABC News report. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is deeply involved with MADD Kern County efforts to raise awareness of the local DUI epidemic, and ways to combat the crimes. “It’s embarrassing that we live in a county in California where you are likely to die in a drunk driving accident than almost any other county in the country.”

Additionally, research shows that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rate for all people increased 51 percent. Speed and nighttime driving are also factors, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration.

Here are a few tips for parents of teens and young adult drivers:

  • Evaluate your teen’s readiness. Talk with your teen about personal responsibility, ability to follow rules and any other concerns before beginning the learning-to-drive process.
  • Get informed. Graduated driver licensing, driver education, license restrictions and supervised practice driving are all part of today’s licensing process. And the state of California sets parameters throughout a multi-stage licensing process for young drivers, such as times of day they can drive and how many passengers they can carry.
  • Start talking now. Share any insight that could save your child from having to learn things the hard way. Talk about what it takes to be a safe driver, the rules and responsibilities once they start driving.
  • Focus on passenger safety. Talk to your teen about always buckling up, not riding with a teen driver without your advance permission, and being a safe passenger with teen and adult drivers.
  • Be involved. When you’re behind the wheel, talk about what you see (road signs, pedestrians, other vehicles) that could result in the need to change speed, direction or both. Maintain an ongoing dialogue about your teen’s driving, appropriately restrict driving privileges and conduct plenty of supervised practice driving. California requires that parents and their teens conduct 50 hours of supervised practice driving, including 10 hours at night.
  • Be a good role model. Make changes in your driving to prevent any poor driving habits from being passed on. Show you take driving seriously by always wearing your seat belt, obeying traffic laws, not using a cell phone while driving, watching your speed, not tailgating, using your turn signals, and not driving when angry or tired.
  • Responsible drivers never drive under the influence. As a parent, you can reinforce that message and help steer clear of dangers, including being a passenger of friends who have been drinking. Preventing underage drinking also helps avoid exposure to violence, risky sexual behavior, alcoholism and other serious concerns.

And, as always, share the road with pedestrian, scooter riders, bicyclists and motorcyclists. For more driving safety tips, go to chainlawblog.com.

———-

If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

———-

MEDIA COVERAGE

Teen Driver Safety: 6 major dangers affecting teen drivers

October 24, 2018 | 9:14 am


Motor vehicle accidents — they’re the leading cause of injury and death among teens.

In fact, teenage drivers have the highest rate of motor vehicle accidents among all age groups in the United States. In California, the statistics can be scary. Our state saw 73,736 crashes in 2016 involving drivers 16 to 20 years old, according to data from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System. In those crashes, 437 people were killed.

Experts say it’s because teenage drivers are inherently immature, lack experience, engage in risky behaviors, and often think of themselves as invincible. For these reasons, it’s important to talk to teen drivers about the responsibilities, rules, and consequences that come with getting behind the steering wheel.

For National Teen Driver Safety Week, observed Oct. 21-27 this year, Chain | Cohn | Stiles wants to remind adults and teenagers on what we can do to make sure all drivers get home safe.

With the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here are six major dangers affecting teen drivers:

  • Drive sober: In 2016, nearly one out of five teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking alcohol despite the fact that it’s illegal everywhere to drink if you’re under 21 throughout the United States. Make it clear that driving impaired by any substance — alcohol or drugs — is deadly and against the law.
  • Buckle up: Roughly half of those 16 to 20 years old who died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016 weren’t wearing seat belts. In 85 percent of the cases when the teen driver wasn’t wearing a seat belt, their passengers were not wearing seat belts either. Tell your teen driver they must buckle up, every ride, every time.
  • No distractions: About 10 percent of all teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash. Explain the dangers of driving distracted by phones and texting or anything else, and that driving attentively is essential for safe driving.
  • No speeding: Speeding was a factor in about one-third of all fatal teen driver crashes. Faster speeds rob inexperienced teen drivers of the extra reaction time they may need to avoid a crash. Emphasize that they must obey posted speed limits.
  • Passengers: Passengers can serve as another distraction for inexperienced teen drivers. That’s why many states have graduated driver licensing restrictions, which prohibit any passengers in vehicles with teen drivers.
  • Drowsy driving: Between school, sports, activities, and part-time jobs, a teen’s schedule can cut into much needed sleep, which can lead to drowsy driving. People are most likely to feel drowsy between the hours of 2 and 6 p.m., which is generally when teens are driving home from school. Explain the dangers of driving drowsy before your teen driver takes the wheel.

As for parents, caregivers and adults, keep these points in mind as well:

  • Graduated Driver License: As mentioned above already, “GDL” laws set limits on teen drivers for safety. In California, there are restrictions on driving late at night during the first year they have a license. Learn about all of the GDL laws in California here.
  • Lead by example: Practice safe driving yourself. You’re a role model — when a teen driver sees you obeying the rules of the road, they get the message. Also, have practice driving sessions with your teen.
  • Set ground rules: No cell phones, no passengers, no speeding, no alcohol, no drowsy driving, and always buckle up. No keys until they know the rules. Establish consequences you will enforce if your teen breaks the rules. One suggestion is to draw up a parent-teen driver agreement — a contract that spells out hours the teen may drive, who pays for the gas and insurance, rules for major driving distractions such as passengers, and anything else the parent wants to include.
  • With driving comes great responsibility: Remind your teen that driving requires your full attention. Texts and phone calls can wait. Teach them about zero-tolerance laws, and the consequences they face for driving after drinking or using drugs. Urge them to never ride with someone who has been drinking or using drugs.

National Teen Driver Safety Week is a great reminder to discuss safe driving, but you should keep the conversation going year-round. You’ll not only better protect your young driver; you’ll be contributing to safer roads in your community.

———

If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at the website chainlaw.com.