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.

Mackinac Bridge Is Closing For Labor Day

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If you Labor Day plans included a trip to the Upper Peninsula, you might want to make a few adjustments to your plans before heading to Northern MIchigan. The Mackinac Bridge Authority decided to close the bridge this year between 6:30 am and 12 during the Annual Bridge Walk.  Officials are acting cautiously to ensure the event's safety.  The decision was made back in May of this year putting those looking forward to 60-year-old tradition in slight tailspin after looking forward to walking alongside the cars on the approximately 5 mile long bridge. Additional safety precautions at the event entail Michigan State Police (MSP), patrol squadrons, mechanics, and shuttle buses to quickly transport and protect those who are participating in the walk.

"There has not been any kind of specific threat against the bridge walk, this is just acting out of an access of caution trying to make it safe as possible," clarified the Communications Representative for the Michigan Department of Transportation, Dan Weingarten as reported by local news. “We ask everybody to be patient, pay attention to signs and obviously pay attention to law enforcement...They will be trying to keep people who are backed up parked on the shoulders of the road to give room for emergency vehicles."

With the Mackinac Bridge being closed, motorists who are traveling this Labor Day weekend should plan their travel times accordingly due to traffic congestion expected to  occur on US-2, US-23, US-31 and I-75. Thankfully the MSP and other traffic authorities will be out in full force willing and able to assist drivers or motorists can plan to delay their travel time or leave early.

2017 Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk

pedestrian accident

Those who are planning to participate in the free Annual Bridge Walk should arrive in St. Ignace where they can be shuttled for $5 to the start of the walking route. Tickets for the shuttle buses can be purchased in Mackinaw City. The bridge authority assures that portable toilets, water and food stations will be placed along the route to relieve walkers. Shuttle buses and MSP squad cars will also be on the bridge as a counterweight to the thousand of walkers expected to be in attendance and to safely transport them in case of personal injury or emergency. The Mackinac Bridge Authority’s website provides additional information (http://www.mackinacbridge.org/).


Have you or loved one been injured in a pedestrian versus motor vehicle accident? Speak with an experienced accident attorney from The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM. Our injury attorneys specialize in auto accidents, pedestrian accidents, insurance claims and more. 

Driving Road Rage Killing In Ada, Michigan

Road rage is once again to blame for claiming another victim in Ada, Michigan. In October 2016, ex-boxer Christian Hilman, 19, was driving his dirt bike home in front of General Motors retiree William McFarlan, 64, when McFarlan began honking his horn and flashing his lights at Hilman. Finally, Hilman had enough of McFarlan driving behind him and turned into a church parking lot where McFarlan decided to follow him. It is said the two engaged in a heated argument before McFarlan placed his hands on Hilman's neck and the two began to fight. Eyewitnesses say that the fight resulted in “McFarlan collapsing by his pickup truck and Hilman continuing to kick him.” After police were called, Hilman was arrested and McFarlan was rushed to the hospital for treatment of his injuries, including fractured ribs and a fractured skull. Unfortunately, nearly five weeks after the assault, McFarlan passed away due to the severity of his injuries.

Medical malpractice

At first, Hilman would have only faced 10 years in prison with an assault charge, but now in light of McFarlan’s death, Hilman has been charged with murder in the second degree and is facing up to 100 years in prison. “I think just because someone gets angry in a road rage incident, it doesn’t justify assaulting and killing a man,'' said Blair Lachman, Kent County Assistant Prosecutor. However, Michael Bartish, a defense attorney, argues that, “Whatever happened, Mr. McFarlan [followed] Christian into that parking lot...There is no reason for that vehicle to have followed him into that parking lot unless the intent was for a fight.’’ Bartish feels that, Hilman a voluntary manslaughter charge would be more appropriate thatn a second degree murder charge, since the crime occurred in the heat of passion.

Tips To Handle Road Rage

Unfortunately, road rage is starting to become a common behavior on American roadways, due to the increase in the number of motorists on the road, an uptick in aggressive driving maneuvers, and personal factors affecting individual motorists. The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC does not condone road rage or aggressive driving behaviors. Neither does DMV.org, who provided the following tips for those drivers who find themselves in driving situations in which they become angry at another driver or another driver engages in aggressive driving behavior towards them.

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  • Maintain your space. This tip does not only refer to keeping enough brake space between cars, but for drivers to do what they need to in order to distance themselves from stressful drivign situations and to remain calm behind the wheel. Playing calming music, a funny podcast, or simply planning ahead for their commute, can prevent drivers from becoming angry.

  • Avoid making eye contact. If the angry driver cannot make eye contact, they will hopefully fume for a moment and continue on their way.

  • Keep your hands on the wheel. Keeping hands busy at 10-and-2 and refraining from making obscene gestures can keep motorists from fanning the flames of anger from other drivers.

  • Show remorse. If a wrong was committed, be the bigger person and correct it by mouthing sorry, waving to the other driver to acknowledge the wrong, or moving out of their way so they can pass.

  • If all else fails - call the police. There may come a time when none of the above tips will help avoid an aggressive driving accident, and the agitated driver may proceed to commit bodily harm to a fellow motorist. In this case, if possible, drivers who find themselves in this situation should pull over and call the police.

Drivers who find themselves engaging in aggressive driving behaviors and have tried bullying someone off the road should remember that acting on violent urges, like what happened between Hilman and McFarlan, can lead to serious consequences. If police catch a driver in the act they could be fined, possibly face prison or jail time, not mention, the aggressive drive will will have to live with a severe assault or a road rage fatality on their conscience.


The altercation between McFarlan and Hilman should serve as a cautionary tale to those who feel they need to teach an aggressive driver a lesson. It is best that the proper authorities handle any road rage incidents, in order to prevent escalating a potential aggressive driving situation. Have you or a loved one been a victim of a road rage car accident? Contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. We know going through the legal process can be scary, but our firm is here to help victims of car accidents every step of the way. 

Record Travel Numbers Expected for 4th of July Weekend

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It’s that time of the year again to put on your festive USA attire, break out the sparklers, and fire up the grill. It is America’s birthday and experts are predicting a record setting number of people traveling for the 4th of July weekend. According to a national survey cited by The Detroit News, 44.2 million people are estimated to be traveling at least 50 miles away from their home. This number comes as a 2.9% increase from last year’s record breaking travel numbers (42.9 million people).

Travel Breakdown

An estimated 37.5 million Americans will be driving to their destinations to celebrate Independence Day. 3.4 million people are predicted to be traveling by air, a 4.6% increase from last year. This marks the 8th straight year in which air travel has been presumed to rise. The survey forecasts that car rental prices will be reduced by 14% and popular domestic flights will be reduced by 10% over the holiday weekend.  

This year’s holiday is classified as a 4-day weekend from Friday to Tuesday.

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Why Is Travel Predicted To Increase?

Fortune states that a growing economy, increased consumer confidence and low gas prices are all factors contributing to the record setting travel predictions. The average U.S. price for gasoline sits at $2.28 per gallon, four cents lower than last year.

Fourth of July Safety

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The Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays of the year. The holiday accounts for 40% of all motor vehicle accident fatalities in the past 5 years. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over the 2015 July 4th weekend, 238 people were killed in car accidents with at least one driver who had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08. Given the record amount of people expected to drive to their travel destinations this year, there is a heightened risk that a few individuals will choose to drive drunk over the holiday weekend. Be very cautious of reckless driving and always make the smart decision to drive sober.


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that in 2015, over 10,000 people died in drunk driving related accidents. If you have been in a drunk driving related accident or accident of any kind, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM. Speak with an experienced attorney and receive a free consultation.