Ready Or Not, Here Teens Come

In July 2018, a teen passenger was killed in a rollover crash while teaching another teen how to drive. MLive reported that neither of the teens were wearing seat belts when the driver, who was going too fast, lost control of the vehicle and it rolled. In another recent teenage car accident, The Detroit Free Press reported that a van full of 10 teenagers were driving on 1-75 and when the driver attempted to switch spots with another passenger as the van was still in motion, causing the van to roll. Two of the three passengers were ejected from the van. If these teen car crashes are anything to go by, it seems like teenagers are not the safest or most cautious drivers. In fact, The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) recently stated on Instagram that, “teen drivers were 2.5 times more likely to engage in 1 or more potentially risky behaviors when driving with 1 teenage peer, compared to when driving alone.” Also, “the likelihood of teen drivers engaging in 1 or more risky behaviors when traveling with multiple passengers increased to 3 times compared to when driving alone.”

Teenage License Eligibility

Just because a teenager and their friends are bored on a Friday night and they find their parents’ car keys on the kitchen counter, doesn’t mean they can go for a joyride through the Taco Bell drive-thru. There are rules on who can drive!

According to Michigan’s Secretary of State (SOS), “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. Level 2’s intermediate license can be earned if a driver is at least 16 years old, had a Level 1 Learner’s License for at least 6 months, and has successfully completed Segment 2 of an approved driver education program. Drivers should also have a parent, legal guardian, or responsible adult sign the application to certify the 50 hours behind-the-wheel driving experience. To be eligible for a Level 2 Full License, applicants must be 17 years old, have Level 2 License for at least 6 months, and completed 12 consecutive months without a moving violation, a crash in which a moving violation resulted, a crash, a license suspension, or a violation of the graduated license restrictions. These requirements end for all teens once they turn 18-years-old.”

However, just because teens are eligible to drive at 14 years and 9 months doesn’t mean they can just hit the road whenever they want. Michigan’s Secretary of State office has restrictions for Level 1 and Level 2 drivers.

Michigan Graduated Drivers License Restrictions

A Level 1 licensed driver:

1. May only drive with a licensed parent/guardian or designated licensed adult age 21 or older.

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A Level 2 licensed driver:

1. Shall not operate a motor vehicle between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. except when:

  • Driving to or from or in the course of employment;

  • Driving to or from an authorized activity; or

  • Accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or a licensed driver 21 years of age or older designated by the parent or legal guardian.

2. Shall not operate a motor vehicle at any time with more than one passenger in the vehicle who is younger than 21 years of age except:

  • When the additional passengers are immediate family members;

  • When driving to or from, or in the course of employment;

  • While going to or from an authorized activity; or

  • When accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, or a licensed driver 21 years of age or older designated by the parent or legal guardian.

So, the teen driver who was teaching the other teen how to drive before they crashed, exhibited behavior that is illegal because according to the SOS rules, they are probably Level 1 drivers, and therefore must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a licensed driver 21 years of age or older. Also, in Michigan, it is illegal for Level 2 drivers to operate a motor vehicle with more than 1 passenger in the vehicle who is younger than 21-years-old, which means the driver with 10 passengers was also driving illegally!

Forget keeping hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel! Teens seem more likely to have their hands in the air taking a selfie behind the wheel, rather than holding the wheel. Since teen drivers take so many road risks, it’s important for parents to speak to their kids about these dangers. The Michigan Law Firm, PC blog recently discussed some driving discussion tips for parents who have driving age teens. It always important to remind teens, and everyone, that driving is a privilege, not a right.


Seeing teenagers behind the wheel can be a scary sight for other drivers on the road. Risky behaviors can lead to car accidents and severe accident injuries. Teens who get into car crashes are scared to call their parents, but those parents may be terrified of dealing with car accident insurance claims. The car crash lawyers at The Michigan Law Firm, PC make the insurance process easier for car crash victims and their families, and work hard to recover car insurance benefits even when crash victims have been denied. Contact us at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.




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.

The Leading Factors For Brain Injuries In Children And Teens

Source:  Flickr

Source: Flickr

With the weather getting warmer, children will be spending more time outside, enjoying some of their favorite sports like football, soccer, and basketball. Kids love sports! It teaches them teamwork and planning strategies, and helps build friendships. And as much as kids like sports, teenagers love learning to drive and aim to receive independence from their parents via a driver’s license. This summer teens will be putting their pedals to the metal and test driving their new skills. So, since the spring and summer are so much fun for children of all ages, everyone should also be wary of the dangers that blows to the head in tackle sports and car crashes can have on children. Children from the ages of 0 to 19 have a greater risk for brain injuries than any other age, according to The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA).

According to Forbes, “[Of the}More than 55,000 teenage drivers and their passengers who were seriously injured in auto accidents during 2009 and 2010, 30 percent suffered acute head injuries, including concussions, skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries.”

Since playing sports and getting into car accidents are leading factors for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in children, parents should keep an eye on their children's behavior in case of head injury. The BIAA gives the following brain injury symptoms that parents should look out for that could impair a child’s physical, cognitive, and emotional being.

Symptoms of Child Brain Injuries

PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENTS COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENTS EMOTIONAL IMPAIRMENTS
speech short term memory deficits mood swings
vision impaired concentration denial
hearing slowness of thinking self-centeredness
headaches limited attention span anxiety
motor coordination impairments of perception depression
spasticity of muscles communication skills lowered self-esteem
paresis or paralysis planning sexual dysfunction
seizure disorders writing restlessness
balance reading lack of motivation
fatigue judgment difficulty controlling emotions

Brain injuries can affect a child in multiple ways, as shown in the above brain injury symptoms chart. Collectively, these TBI symptoms can affect a child’s school work, social life, and general way of life. And since the recent news about the NFL concussion scandals, TBIs have become household dinner table talk. All of the negative TBI press has caused parents to become more involved in their children’s physical activities and become reluctant to let their children play sports or learn how to drive. While it’s disheartening to kids to have their parents deny their enrollment in football camp, these parents may be making the right choice. After all, “Each year an average of 62,000 children sustain brain injuries requiring hospitalization as a result of motor vehicle crashes, falls, sports injuries, physical abuse and other causes. A staggering 564,000 children are seen in hospital emergency departments for brain injury and released,” the BIAA reports. And according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), “Sports and recreational activities contribute to about 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents.”

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Brain injuries happen, and they are an injury that nobody expects could happen to them. But for children with brain injuries, it’s even worse. The BIAA reports that, “The brain of a child is continuing to develop. The assumption used to be a child with a brain injury would recover better than an adult because there was more “plasticity” in a younger brain, but recent research has shown that this is not the case. A brain injury actually has a more devastating impact on a child than an injury of the same severity on a mature adult.”  This is why brain trauma is a topic that needs to be discussed more often and more openly by the public. The BIAA leads the charge in continuing the conversation on brain trauma during the month of March, which is Brain Injury Awareness month. While brain injury experts are studying how to heal traumatic brain injuries, it may be a while until a surefire treatment is created. Until then, since we can't bubble wrap children and forbid them to leave the house, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  provides the following tips to help prevent brain injury accidents from occurring. 

How to Prevent Brain Injuries In Children

1. Buckling your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt (according to the child's height, weight, and age).

2. Wearing a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.

3. Never driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

4. Wearing a helmet and making sure your children wear helmets when:

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  • Riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or all-terrain vehicle;

  • Playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing;

  • Using in-line skates or riding a skateboard;

  • Batting and running bases in baseball or softball;

  • Riding a horse; or

  • Skiing or snowboarding.

5. Making living areas safer for seniors, by:

  • Removing tripping hazards such as throw rugs and clutter in walkways;

  • Using nonslip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors; Installing grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower;

  • Installing handrails on both sides of stairways;

  • Improving lighting throughout the home; and

  • Maintaining a regular physical activity program, if your doctor agrees, to improve lower body strength and balance.

6. Making living areas safer for children, by:

  • Installing window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows; and

  • Using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are around.

  • Making sure the surface on your child's playground is made of shock-absorbing material, such as hardwood mulch or sand.

While the CDC's 5th tip may be for senior citizens, some of this advice may also be applicable to children. Plenty of children have fallen while running up and down the stairs without using handrails and many have tripped over a rug and hit their head. Vigorous play with toys used to entice children to take baths have also led to slip and fall accidents in the bath tub. 

The fact of the matter is that children always face the risk of traumatic brain injuries because most children are physically active. By monitoring a child or teenager's physical, cognitive, and emotional behaviors following a head injury, parents can help their children immediately receive any medical attention they may need.


Summer fun like playing sports or taking road trips may lead to brain injury accidents. After all, sports and motor vehicle accidents are some of the leading factors for brain injuries in children and teens. If you or anyone you is suffering from a traumatic brain injury or any car accident injury, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PC by calling 844.4MI.FIRM today. Our brain injury lawyers are available for a free legal consultation. 

New Apple Technology Seeks to Break Bad Driving Habits

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Do-do-do! Your iPhone goes off from the car's cup holder signaling a text message. You pick it up to read it while simultaneously switching to the far left lane on the freeway and speeding up. It’s your best friend. The text says that he needs to call you right now to talk about last night's episode of The Walking Dead. You turn down the radio and dial his number as you grab a fry out of your McDonald's bag and stuff it into your mouth. With both hands off the wheel, you accidentally serve into the lane to your right. The car behind you and the car to your right honk! You abruptly drop your phone and use both hands to get back in your lane. Now you hear your phone ringing but it's lodged in the space between your seat and the center console. You sigh and try to fish it out while driving singlehandedly.

Sound familiar?

This is what it is like to drive distracted - something many of us have done but hate to admit. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that, daily there are about 660,000 drivers who use their cell phones while driving. The constant need to multi-task and the busy work life of hundreds of thousands of Americans endanger the safety of everyone on the road.

Therefore, as technology continues to develop, companies are being challenged to develop products that are not only new and improved, but that keep individuals safe while driving. Many cars already have wireless programs that allow drivers to talk on their phone or respond verbally to text messages without having to take their eyes of the road or their hands off the wheel. However, cell phones are still easy to check and within reach of the steering wheel, making cell phone usage while driving a lethal combination.

Michigan Distracted Driving Car Crash

Apple’s latest software, iOS 11, has been created with these distracted drivers in mind. Its newest feature, called Do Not Disturb While Driving (DNDWD), is designed to prevent people from checking their phones while driving a car. Engadget tried out the new software and explained that the program uses Bluetooth or WiFi doppler effect to determine how fast a phone's user is moving. If an iPhone user is moving at high speeds, like those achieved while riding in a car, a blank screen will appear if the user tries to use the phone, in order to shield drivers from the constant flow of notifications and alerts. There is however an option to disable DNDWD when the program prompts users to say whether or not they are the drivers, thereby allowing passengers in moving cars to freely use their mobile devices.

The feature also has the capability to auto-reply to text messages, telling your phone contacts that you are driving and will view their messages when you reach your destination. There is even an option to customize certain contacts, allowing them to text back “urgent” to have their text message come through even if Do Not Disturb While Driving is on. Obviously, this feature is only intended to be used in case of emergency. While no software can prevent complete distraction, iOS 11 is Apple’s way of making iPhones safer for drivers. These efforts may dramatically decrease distracted driving.

Source: GIPHY, FX's  Louie

Source: GIPHY, FX's Louie

One demographic that can definitely benefit from DNDWD is teenagers. Teens are the largest age group reported to have engaged in distracted driving behavior when involved in fatal car crashes. Young people also make up the majority of smartphone users in the United States. With DNDWD, Apple has discovered an easy way to save the lives of many of its teenage iPhone users, even marketing the idea of safe driving as “cool.”

Teens aside, distracted driving is not something for adults to take lightly either. Distracted driving may lead to serious injuries and death from car collisions in any age group. Alarmingly, 3,477 people were killed by distracted driving accidents in 2015 alone. Parents need to lead by example for their children, who may make the excuse that “Mom does it,” to use their phone while driving. In some states, it is against the law to text, talk on the phone, or participate in other distractions while driving. Yet time and time again, adult drivers pick up their cell phone while also driving on the road. Citizens of Michigan are especially guilty of this action since cellphone usage while driving is not illegal in Michigan. By utilizing Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, drivers of all ages, Michiganders included, have even less of an excuse to drive distracted and are encouraged to choose to be safe rather than sorry.

Aside from any emergency situations, most motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving are completely avoidable. The next time you drive, consider the serious and deadly consequences of driving while distracted. Pick your radio station before leaving the driveway, save the snacks for the dinner table, do your makeup and shave in a bathroom mirror, and keep your pet securely fastened away from the driver. Most importantly and most easily, keep your phone in the back seat, in a purse or bag, or just simply turn it off. If a phone must be kept on, use programs designed for your safety, such as DNDWD, to help break the bad habit of checking every text, game notification or Instagram post, while driving. Explaining to the ER doctor that you wrapped your car around a tree because you needed an update on the Tigers game is not fun.

Source: GIPHY, SmallBizTechnology.com

Source: GIPHY, SmallBizTechnology.com


Distracted driving is a constant threat to drivers and passengers. Cell phones are a common form of distraction, taking driver's eyes, hands, and ears off the road, possibly leading to a car crash. If you or someone you know has been been the victim of a motor vehicle collision caused by distracted driving, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM. Our firm offers free consultations for those who need assistance in navigating their legal options while recovering from their car accident injuries.

Grosse Pointe Teen Crashes In Lake St. Clair

On February 26, 2017, 16-year-old Nolan Mullins crashed into Lake St. Clair after his mother's Ford Flex steering wheeled reportedly locked up on him causing him to veer toward the lake at 30 miles per hour. "It felt like the tire locked," Nolan told The Detroit Free Press. "I tried shaking the wheel, and I couldn't get it to move. It wouldn't move. I had this freak-out moment," he said. "By the time I slammed on the brakes, I wasn't getting any traction."

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The Ford Flex crashed into the lake at a 33-degree angle and began to sink. Nolan first tried to escape through the driver side door without success, and then tried the windows, which successfully rolled down and allowed him to swim out of the vehicle after unbuckling himself. "If I'd waited another five seconds, I think I would have lost the power windows," Nolan said.

Once he was free of the vehicle, Nolan swam to the hood of the car so he could signal for help. That is when Lisa Hughes, an elementary school teacher, happened to be driving by and saw the crowd of cars nearby where Nolan had crashed.  Hughes quickly jumped into action by ordering her daughter to call 911 while she encouraged Nolan to give her his parents' phone number. Hughes informed Nolan's mother about the situation and alerted her that the authorities were on their way. 

Ford Flex Recall

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By the time the U.S. Coast Guard reached Nolan, he had mild hypothermia and was taken to St. Johns Hospital to be treated. It is currently unclear what exactly caused the Flex to malfunction, but it is known that the Ford issued a recall on nearly 400,000 vehicles back in June 2015, which included the Ford Flex for power steering issues.

Mr. Nolan was fortunate in being able to escape from his vehicle without the power windows seizing up on him. It is important to remember that others might not be so lucky. Therefore, all drivers and anyone with access to a motor vehicle should remember to regularly check to see if any recalls have been issued for their vehicle. In regards to Ford models, anyone who may be under the recall is encouraged to contact Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332 to avoid any potential accidents in the future. All other drivers are encouraged to go to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA)'s website and enter their vehicle identification number (VIN) number, to find out if their vehicle is safe to drive. It only takes one minute to use the NHTSA's recall look up, which means that it could only take one minute to avoid a car accident and ultimately save lives.


Situations like the one Mr. Nolan experienced can be very scary, especially since his malfunctioning car did not lead to a typical motor vehicle accident but a potential drowning. Therefore, car drivers and owners should take precautions to check for vehicle recalls, and in case of a recall, get their vehicles serviced and fixed as soon as possible in order to avoid accidents like this from happening. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident due to a malfunctioning vehicle or a car under recall, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation today.