We can only be teenagers once in our lifetimes. The strength and spontaneity that comes with being young is a blessing. However, when the strength and vigor of youthfulness are employed incorrectly, it can snowball into a tragedy quicker than we imagine.

Some teenagers do not understand how heavy a responsibility anyone behind the steering wheel bears until someone unpalatable happens. Unfortunately, the sad realization comes after the deed has been done. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, 2042 people were killed in crashes involving a teen drivers (15-18 years old) in 2019. Furthermore, 45 percent of teen drivers who died in 2019 were unbuckled. 

How Teenagers can be Safer Drivers

We have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts below to help teen drivers drive safely.

  1. Avoid Impaired Driving
  2. Shun Peer Pressure 
  3. Avoid Distracted Driving
  4. Familiarize yourself with the road traffic laws
  5. Avoid speeding 
  6. Avoid Drunk Driving and Illegal Drugs
  7. Use a Seatbelt 
  8. Do not over speed: 
  9. Rest (Do not drive when tired, or feeling sick)
  10. Reduce Driving at Night and Weekend Partying 
  11. Follow only the right example shown by responsible adults
  12. Attend a Driving School. The Driving School Association of the Americas’ driving school index for more information on professional driving school 
  13. Be observant, identify potential hazards, reduce risk by adjusting speed or position and communicate the intention to other drivers.
  14. Look out for signs: When approaching work or construction zones, watch out for cones, slow down signs, barrels, large vehicles, and workers.
  15. Do not follow another vehicle too closely (tailgating)
  16. Practice Visual Search/Scanning (anticipate a change of speed or problems ahead)
  17. Use your mirrors (side mirrors, rear view mirror.

Who is Under-Aged in Florida?

In Florida, an under-aged person is anyone who has not attained the age of twenty-one.

Florida’s Zero Tolerance Policy for Underage Drinking 

Florida has zero tolerance for underage drinking. The legal limit for persons above the age of twenty-one is 0.08 BAC. While the legal limit for a person below twenty-one is 0.02 BAC. 

BAC means Blood Alcohol Concentration. It is the amount of alcohol present in an individual’s blood. One drink can result in a BAC of 0.02. This implies that those under the age of twenty-one cannot lawfully consume alcohol 

 By the Florida Statute, it is unlawful for a person under-aged to have alcohol or an alcoholic beverage. In addition, Florida Statute 562.111 provides that:

It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 years, except a person employed under the provisions of s. 562.13 acting in the scope of their employment, to have in their possession alcoholic beverages… any person under the age of 21 who is convicted of a violation of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree…

How Alcohol Affects the Brain Function

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways and can affect the way the brain looks and works. Alcohol makes it harder for the brain areas controlling balance, memory, speech, and judgment to do their jobs, resulting in a higher likelihood of injuries and other negative outcomes. Long-term, heavy drinking causes alterations in the neurons, such as reductions in their size. The developing brain is particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Misuse of alcohol during adolescence and early adulthood can alter the trajectory of brain development, resulting in long-lasting changes in brain structure and function.

One significant consequence of alcohol misuse is alcohol-induced blackouts. Blackouts are gaps in a person’s memory for events that occurred while they were intoxicated. These gaps happen when a person drinks enough alcohol to temporarily block the transfer of memories from short-term to long-term storage—known as memory consolidation—in a brain area called the hippocampus. 

Continuing to drink despite clear signs of significant impairments can result in an alcohol overdose. An alcohol overdose occurs when there is so much alcohol in the bloodstream that areas of the brain controlling basic life-support functions—such as breathing, heart rate, and temperature control—begin to shut down. Symptoms of alcohol overdose include mental confusion, difficulty remaining conscious, vomiting, seizure, trouble breathing, slow heart rate, clammy skin, dulled responses such as no gag reflex (which prevents choking), and extremely low body temperature. Alcohol overdose can lead to permanent brain damage or death.

Punishment for DUI and DWI

DWI means Driving While Intoxicated or Impaired, while DUI means Driving Under Influence. In Florida, where your teenager consumes alcohol and then proceeds to operate a vehicle, their driving license can be suspended for at least six months. The license may be suspended for a year if this is the second or subsequent DUI offense. Additionally, the arresting officer has the option of bringing your child to a county addiction facility if they are under the age of 18. If your child’s result was higher than 0.05, they might need to finish a substance misuse course before reinstating their driving privileges. Results over 0.08 may well result in the adolescent being jailed.

When your teenager is charged for the offense a second time, they can be sentenced to serve a jail term.

How Parents can help Teenagers become Safer Drivers

  1. Monitor and Supervise: Speeding time monitoring and supervising can help you and your teenage bond. Please help them to improve their driving school and prepare them for the road.
  2. Do not buy your teenager a car until you see a high level of proficiency and responsibility.
  3. Model the Right Example: Be the role model. Don’t just tell them; show them. Sometimes parents can be guilty of not showing the right examples. Don’t rely solely on a driver’s education class to teach your teen to drive.
  4. Do not engage your teen with alcohol: Do not indulge your teen with alcohol or condone it. Aside from being illegal to consume, it can pose a huge risk to their health. 
  5. Educate your teen on the ills of DUI: Parents are the first teachers, so teach your teenager. Let them know the ills of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, allowing a passenger or peer to constitute a distraction while driving and what might likely occur.
  6. Set your own rules: Parents can set their own rules. This is not being hard on your teen but contrary to being proactive enough to keep them out of danger.
  7. Do not allow your teen to cultivate the habit of late-night driving: This is particularly necessary where your teenager has an eye challenge. They can have myopia, hypermetropia, or astigmatism and find it difficult to maneuver at night.
  8. Enforce seat belt use: Teens can develop the habit of buckling up immediately after they enter a vehicle rather than wait till the vehicle is already in motion. You can enforce this with your teenager.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Tampa and St Petersburg

Driving is a critical skill, so it is a major step when your teen starts driving. Given the high number of auto accidents in the state, you should be concerned about the safety of your child and other road users as a caring parent or guardian. Aside from ensuring their safety, you risk being blamed for their mistakes if an accident occurs.

You cannot stop your adolescent from learning to drive, but you can assist, guide, and keep an eye on them.

You should contact the Coleman Law Group if your teen was hurt in an accident or caused one in Tampa and St. Petersburg.

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