The Parents' Guide To Safe Teen Driving

For a parent, a teenager finally getting their driver's license can be a double-edged sword. It’s a celebration since parents no longer have to pick up and drop off their teens from their high school sports and club events and they can now make their teens run endless errands on Sunday mornings! On the downside, parents may fall into the eternal pit of worrying about their teens’ safety on the road. After all, according to the Center For Disease and Control (CDC), more than 2,400 teens died due to car crashes, the main cause of these car accidents being driver inexperience, in 2016!

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Most teens beg for a car for their Sweet Sixteen, but Michigan parents worry more than other parents around the country because in Michigan, “if an individual is 14 years and 9 months and has successfully completed Segment 1 of an approved driver education program they may be eligible for a Level 1 Learner’s License.” Before parents start panicking that their teen is driving just after graduating from Middle School, parents should make sure that their teen is qualified and ready to drive on their own.

The Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) offers parents a few tips on how to coach a teen in driving.

How To Coach Teen Drivers

  • Model Safe Driving- Teens learn what they observe. Be a good role model and follow the rules of the road.

  • Practice a lot- Practice as much as possible. You and your teen should be the only people in the vehicle.

  • Plan your routes ahead of time - While your teen is driving, be able to communicate your intentions clearly before your teen executes any of your requests. For example, "turn right" is a bad request. "Turn right at the next corner" is a better request.

  • Start simple- Learning to drive can be overwhelming - for your teen and for you. Begin with the basics, such as turning, parking and backing up. When you both feel comfortable, consider progressing to more advanced skills such as merging, changing lanes and parallel parking.

  • Start sunny- Begin practicing during the day, in good weather. As your teen improves, gradually start driving during different driving conditions, including a variety of times of day, weather and types of roads.

  • Don't rush into rush hour- Start with safe, low-risk driving conditions, such as empty parking lots and quiet rural roads. Gradually make progress to neighborhood streets with little traffic, then busier roads and highways.

  • Talk with your teen- Keep the lines of communication open so your teen feels comfortable talking with you. This builds trust and respect.

  • Take deep breaths- Remember, new drivers need a lot of practice. Making mistakes is part of learning. Remain calm and focused. Teens will show the greatest improvement in the first 1,000 miles to 5,000 miles of driving.

Of course, a few coaching tips won’t cover the wide range of environments and challenges a driver may face while on the road. So, it is very important for parents to monitor their teens’ driving and educate them on how distractions can be dangerous when driving.

The Michigan State Police (MSP) mention 3 main types of distracted driving which may affect a teen driver:

  1. Visual: taking your eyes off the road.

  2. Manual: taking your hands off the wheel.

  3. Cognitive: taking your mind off what you are doing.

Taking a Snapchat video, passing the aux cord, typing in a location on Google maps, texting a friend, or even drinking water or eating while driving, are all actions categorized as distracted driving. According to The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), 391,000 drivers were injured by distracted driving in 2016. What is even more terrifying is that, according to the National Safety Council, “cell phone use is now estimated to be involved in 26% of all motor vehicle crashes.”

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Nobody, especially not a teen driver, wants to deal with traffic fines for distracted driving because they had to check the notification that popped on their phone. Fines may raise car insurance rates and can even eventually lead to license suspension. And cell phone usage while driving isn’t even legal for some teens, because according to Michigan Secretary of State (SOS), Michigan law prohibits drivers who are Level 1 and Level 2 license holders under the Graduated Driver Licensing program from using a cell phone while driving. “Violations are a civil infraction and fees may be up to $240.” And no teen wants to suffer through the consequence of getting their keys taken away by their parents just before prom!

So, to avoid fines, car accidents, and to give parents peace of mind, parents should ensure that their teens are properly taught how to drive before they let them on the road by themselves. Parents can teach their teens themselves or enroll their teens into driving courses. Parents and their teens should also discuss the dangers of distracted driving as well as the seriousness of car crashes to ensure that teens understand what can go wrong if they neglect to drive with caution and full attention on the road.


While parents may face the same car accident risks and obstacles each time they get behind the wheel, they have the experience to handle road dangers that many teen drivers do not. A teen driving car crash can cause serious damage to vehicles, to the teen drivers, and to others on the road. However, The Michigan Law Firm, PC understands that teen drivers aren’t always at fault in their first car accident. Our accident attorneys handle all types of motor vehicle accident cases. Call us at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.

Eating And Driving Is Distracted Driving!

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You’re driving home from a long day at work and are starving from that light and unsatisfactory salad you had for lunch. The McDonald’s you just picked up is sitting on the chair beside you, tempting you with it’s tantalizing smell. You can just imagine those french fries, so salty and delicious, and your mouth waters. One fry wouldn’t really be an issue, would it? You reach for a fry, and realize that you can’t just eat the fry by its lonesome. You need that ketchup. So you reach into the bag, glancing between it and the road as you paw around for a packet of ketchup. After finding it, you carefully balance the fry in your hand, tear open the packet of ketchup, and slowly spread it along the french fry. You finally eat it, and your eyes close as you savor the salty treat, your taste buds dancing with delight. You open your eyes again, debating whether to grab another fry or not, when you notice that your car is heading straight into the ditch on the side of the road. You're about to get into a car accident. Oops!

Eating on the go is a common occurrence. People late to work in the morning, people who work late and pick up food on the way home, and people snacking on long drives and road trips, all eat while driving. However, eating while driving is a form of distracted driving that may lead to dangerous distracted driving car crashes.

Distracted driving is anything that distracts people from keeping their full attention on the road when driving. While most people associate distracted driving with texting or making a phone call while driving, eating is also a habit that causes people to take their eyes off the road, and therefore can cause distracted driving car accidents. Many people don’t comprehend how these distracted driving activities, which nearly everyone has done at least once in their lives, could be dangerous, since they overestimate their alertness and think they’ll be safe, “just this once.” It may seem silly, but even something as small as eating a single fry could cause a distracted driving car crash. 

Source: Giphy, FX’s It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

In fact, the Auto Alliance Driving Innovation’s public service campaign, which works to eliminate distracted driving, Decide To Drive, states that eating while driving is one of the most common forms of distracted driving. After all, the modern world is full of food designed to eat while driving. Just take a look at Go-Gurt, a cup of yogurt repackaged in an easy to hold and slurp tube, or the entire marketing ploy behind KFC’s Go Cup being that it fits in the cup holder, making it perfect to eat fried chicken while driving. So, why isn’t eating and driving a more pressing issue when discussing distracted driving? According to Decide To Drive, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that eating and driving increases the likelihood of crashes by 80 percent. Additionally, 65 percent of near-miss crashes are caused by distracted drivers who are eating or drinking while driving.” And since 40,100 distracted driving deaths occurred in 2017, according to The National Safety Council (NSC), it’s safe to assume that a good number of these distracted driving fatalities were due to eating while driving. That is a large number of deaths for something that could have been prevented by paying a little more attention to the road. If waiting to get home to eat those McDonald's french fries is too taxing, people should consider parking and eating them in the McDonald’s parking lot!

This is why April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Hopefully, by bringing awareness to how dangerous distracted driving is, like eating and driving, fewer people will get into distracted driving car accidents in the future. 


Distracted driving, whether it is by eating food, texting, or blaring the radio, can be a dangerous activity and may result in a distracted driving car accident. Make a positive change for Distracted Driving Awareness Month by reconsidering eating that 5-layer Beef Burrito you just picked up from Taco Bell’s drive thru while driving. Instead, perhaps wait until your arrival home or even dine. Stay safe and avoid distracted driving. If you or anyone you know has been the victim of a distracted driving car crash, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PC at 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free legal consultation.

Michigan Woman Dies After Being Struck By Vehicle In Parking Lot

A Michigan woman has passed away after being hit by a car in a grocery store parking lot outside of Muskegon, Michigan. According to the Detroit Free Press, Betty Jean Wolovek, 82, was struck by a vehicle in the parking lot of E&A Grocery on East Apple Avenue in Egelston Township, Michigan. The accident occurred on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2017, at around 10:30 AM. She was taken to Mercy Health, where she died from her injuries.

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The car accident is still under investigation. Currently, Muskegon police have not released any details about the driver or if any criminal charges have been filed. According to Wolovek’s son, she was hit by a female driver who remained on scene until the police arrived. He believes the driver was backing up when she hit his mother.  

Parking lot accidents are unfortunately common in the United States. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), an average of 50,000 accidents occur each year in parking lots and garages. Parking lot accidents result in about 500 deaths and 60,000 injuries each year. And since traffic deaths on highways and surface roads have been rising in recent years, it’s likely that the number of parking lot accident deaths may rise too.

A survey done by the NSC in 2016 found that 66% of drivers admit to making phone calls while driving in parking lots, and 56% admit to texting. Drivers also admitted to programming their GPS, sending or receiving emails, taking photos or watching videos, using a smartphone, surfing the internet, and video chatting, all while driving in parking lots.

Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the NSC, said that, "Parking lots are intense driving environments that require both drivers and pedestrians to pay close attention...It is discouraging that so many drivers are willing to add distractions to that mix. When you're in a parking lot, you need to be hyper-vigilant to the risks surrounding you – just because speeds are lower doesn't mean you are safe." To help prevent car crashes, the NSC provides the following tips for drivers while in parking lots.

Parking Lot Driving Safety Tips

  1. Stay in lanes and avoid cutting across lots.
  2. Drive slowly and use directional signals.
  3. Anticipate the actions of other drivers.
  4. Obey stop signs and no-parking signs.
  5. When backing out, be mindful of vehicles and pedestrians.
  6. Watch for small children and parents with baby strollers.
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It’s not just drivers who need to remain vigilant and free from distractions while in parking lots, however. From 2001 to 2011, more than 11,000 pedestrians were seriously injured because they were distracted by phones. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that like traffic deaths, pedestrian accident deaths are also on the rise. Pedestrian deaths jumped 9% from 2014 to 2015, and are at the highest number they’ve been since 1996. When walking through a parking lot, pedestrians need to put the phone down, and be aware of vehicles that could start backing up at any moment.

Drivers and pedestrians must work together to car accidents in parking lots. Pedestrians need to stay away from their phones and any other distractions while walking to and from their cars, and be on the lookout for cars with their brake lights on, or any other signal that a car may be about to move. Drivers should program their GPS, send emails, make phone calls, and do whatever else they need to do while their car is in park and not moving - not while driving. When backing out of a parking space, drivers should check and double check for pedestrians, shopping carts, and any other hazards that may be their way. Parking lots may not seem as dangerous as highways, but distracted driving accidents can happen anywhere, and drivers should always know how to be safe avoid car accidents.


Parking lot accidents may not receive as much attention as high-speed car crashes on the freeway, but the truth is that car collisions can happen anywhere. If you have been involved in an automobile accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. 

Distracted Driving Kills! Don't Text And Drive!

In 2018, not a day goes by that we don’t use technology. With the cars we drive, the phones we use, the watches on our wrist, technology seems to be in the air we breathe! Add on using the newest filters on Snapchat and Instagram, to sending text messages or answering phone calls, and technology can become extremely dangerous for drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that approximately 660,000 people are using their cell phones while driving, daily! And, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report from 2015 found that, “there were 3,477 people killed and an estimated additional 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.”

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That is why readers should know that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month! It’s important for drivers everywhere to be reminded about the serious dangers that distracted driving poses, because, the kicker is that all distracted driving car accidents and distracted driving accident fatalities are completely preventable! The National Safety Council (NSC) warns us that, “Each death is 100% preventable. From cell phones to dashboard infotainment systems to evolving voice command features – all pose a threat to our safety. Just one second of your attention is all takes to change a life forever.”

Cell phones are the number one suspect that comes to mind when thinking of distracted driving car accidents. In particular texting and driving is a big cause of distracted driving car accidents. In 2015, a survey of Michigan drivers found that 41% of young adults between the ages of 20-30 have admitted to texting and driving on a regular basis! 26% even admitted to texting and driving on a daily basis! Coincidentally, the State of Michigan reported that, “There were 7,516 crashes in Michigan during 2015 involving distracted driving, resulting in 28 fatalities and 3,472 injuries. Cell phones were involved in 753 crashes, with three fatalities and 377 injuries."  

No matter the distracting device however, whether it be cell phones, headphones, or smartwatches, any electronic device can impair driving. It might not seem like a big deal to see if you received a text message or a news update when your phone pings, after all, you’re just seeing what type of notification it is and don’t plan to read the text or the news blurb. However, engaging in such a seemingly harmless distraction while driving can lead to a car crash. In fact, the NHTSA says that looking down at a phone for five seconds driving at 55mph is like driving the length of a football field, blindfolded!

Unfortunately distracted driving isn’t just caused by using electronic devices. Changing the radio station because Nickelback is playing, driving with one hand on the wheel and one hand carrying a Big Mac to your mouth, or quickly reaching over to pick up Elmo after your kid dropped him, can all be distracted driving actions that can lead to serious car accidents. While these types of distracted driving habits have always existed, distracted driving has evolved in the age of social media. It’s not just about calling or texting someone while driving, but about applying the cutest camera filter for a behind-the-wheel selfie, or even checking Twitter to see what’s trending, or going on Facebook to see how many likes a post has gotten. 

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The number of distracted driving car accidents and distracted driving fatalities are scary enough to make people want to throw their phone out of a car window, but that’s not practical. Our society can no longer function without the easy communication and quick internet access cell phones provide us. Many people even see cell phones as an extension of their body, like another limb even. Therefore, it’s unreasonable to tell people to leave their phones at home when they plan to drive. Rather than facing that horrifying ultimatum, the public should be made aware of less drastic ways to prevent distracted driving. For example, some tech companies have invented apps, and even programs in their operating systems to prevent distracted driving car accidents. As previously reported by The Michigan Law Firm, PC, apps like Groove, and phone lock out programs like Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving mode, help prevent distracted driving car accidents.

Some organizations like AT&T have launched sponsorships like the It Can Wait pledge, to end distracted driving. With over 24 million pledges to stop distracted driving, It Can Wait has become one of the most popular anti-distracted driving organizations. It Can Wait has even created a virtual reality simulator that allows users to experience the dangers of texting and driving and shows how using a cell phone while driving truly impacts ones vision. It Can Wait also wants their users to take the pledge today, to stand up to distracted driving, and to become an activist who says ‘No’ to using a distracting device like a cell phone, to prevent car accidents, and to save lives. The organization, as previously reported by The Michigan Law Firm, also launched their DriveMode application that helps minimize cell phone distractions while driving. 


Distracted driving car crashes happen daily due to texting and driving, eating and driving, taking pictures and driving, and from engaging in any activity that causes drivers to not pay 100% attention to the road. If you or anyone you know has been involved in a car crash caused by a distracted driver, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC at 844.4MI.FIRM. Our experienced accident attorneys offer free consultations to victims of car accidents.

It's National Child Passenger Safety Week!

Child injury and death from car collisions are unfortunately all too common, but the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) is part of a campaign to help raise awareness as to how parents can help reduce the risk of injury or death to their kids while traveling in the car. The week of September 17th through the 23rd is National Child Passenger Safety Week, and aims to shed light on the importance of using proper restraints for kids when traveling in a vehicle. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, automobile accidents are the leading cause of unintentional deaths for children ages 1-13. The National Security Council reports that in 2015 alone, 1,346 children under the age of 15 were killed in motor vehicle accidents, which is an average of more than 3 kids per day. While these statistics are scary, luckily, there are ways parents can help to reduce the likelihood of their child being injured or killed in a car crash. The simplest way to avoid child car accident injuries is by using the proper restraints. In 2012 alone, the lives of 284 kids, ages 5 and under, were saved due to restraint use, according to Safe Kids. Using car seats, seat belts, and booster seats can reduce the risk of injury or death by up to 50%. Safe Kids also gives the following tips on to how to keep young passengers safe while traveling.

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Child Car Seat Safety Tips

  • The back seat is the best. It is the safest place to ride for all children under the age of 13. Not all cars allow for a car seat in every place that has a seat belt. Check your car owner manual to see where you can put a car seat.
  • Be wary of toys in the car. Choose toys that are soft and will not hurt your child in a crash. Secure any loose objects in the car.
  • Wear your seat belt. We know that when adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So be a good example and buckle up for every ride. Be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up, too.
  • Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute.

Safe Kids recommends that children need to be riding in some sort of restrained device until the age of 13. According to the OHSP, children who are under the height of 4 feet and 9 inches cannot fit comfortably in a seat belt, making them more likely to tuck it behind their back or under their arm, thereby reducing its effectiveness. Seat belts are designed to fit across the hips and shoulders, which are the strongest part of the body. Booster seats lift up smaller children to allow the seat belt to fit properly. According to the OHSP, less than half of children aged 4-7 in the state of Michigan are using booster seats. As kids get older, the use of restraints goes down, even though booster seats are cheaper and easier to use than car seats. Older children are at risk too, as kids over the age of 14 are more likely to not use a seat belt at all. 

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Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan branch of the OHSP, says that the goal is not to scare parents, but to make them aware of the risks that come with not restraining child passengers properly. They also want to provide encouragement by reinforcing how useful car seats and booster seats are when it comes to reducing the number of child injuries and deaths from car accidents. Prince also said that the timing of the campaign is intentional. With school starting, kids are being driven back and forth not only to school, but to sports practices and other activities. The OHSP wants to make sure that parents are ensuring their kids are safe during travel times.

While no parent can guarantee that their child won’t be involved in an automobile accident, they can guarantee that their child is properly restrained. For younger children, it's as simple as making sure they are using car seats and booster seats until they are big enough for seat belts to fit properly. For older children, it's important for parents to set a good example and make sure they are wearing their seat belt so that even when they are not travelling with you, teenagers will remember to wear one. In making child car safety a priority, parents are responsibly helping keep their children as safe as possible in the event of a motor vehicle accident.


Using the proper restraints can reduce the risk of death or injury to children, in the event of a car accident. If you or a loved one have been injured in an automobile accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in handling all types of automobile accident cases, especially those involving children. Our car accident lawyers understand that while car crashes can be confusing enough for adults, they can especially take a toll on children.