As both an attorney and the parent of a teenage son, Federal Way lawyer David Ranz understands the complicated dynamic that comes when teens begin driving. We want to give them the independence they crave, but we also want to keep them safe.
That, along with his own experiences as a young driver – including the accidents that invariably followed – help him provide the best care for clients navigating the consequences of an accident.
“All of that deeply informs how much I care when helping clients who’ve experienced a car accident,” says the owner of Ranz Injury Law in Federal Way.
At the same time, the best accident is the one that’s prevented – a goal Ranz takes seriously. “As someone with a teenage son, I feel compelled to help people prevent accidents, not only for themselves but for their teens. We hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
Understanding the psychology of teens and their vehicles
“A car represents freedom, and being able to have a life and go places, and with teens, this feeling is very strong,” Ranz says.
However, it’s usually not until an accident happens that they realize how much their vehicle means to them.
Parents who are positive role models in their driving, can positively influence their teen’s behavior, and help prevent accidents, he explains.
5 essential tips to teach your teen driver
Prepare for inclement weather: Teaching your teen to drive in inclement weather goes a long way to keeping them safe. “Kids have a lot of restrictions when first getting their driver’s license, but often, there’s not enough education about how to drive well in inclement weather,” Ranz advises. Teach them to drive slowly if hydroplaning, after a rain or on black ice. Switch to winter tires, and check your tire pressure and battery power before any major trip as both drop when the temperature goes down. Ensure your wiper fluid reservoir and gas tank are full, build in extra time to accommodate the weather and tell others about your estimated time of arrival.
Use merge lanes appropriately: “Recently, I drove with my son to the mall and before I knew it, he’d missed his turn,” Ranz recalls. “Make sure you explain there are different types of merging lanes and show your teen how to merge appropriately.”
Know where you’re going: “Back in the day, before GPS, we all knew where we were going – we even wrote down directions and looked at maps. These days, teens are completely reliant on their phone and if their GPS goes down, they’re prone to an accident,” Ranz says. “Teach your teenager how to read a map so they know where they’re going. That skill will come in really handy if their phone dies for any reason.”
Educate them on drunk driving: “Help them understand the seriousness of driving while impaired from alcohol, cannabis or other drugs. Also, the intermediate license hours of banned driving are from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., so be mindful of those rules when talking to your teen.”
Despite our best efforts, accidents can still happen – sometimes to the best-prepared drivers. The good news: help is just a phone call away.
“The answer is obvious: Try not to have your teen get into a car crash, but if they do, give us a call. We can help you understand the law of Washington state, and get everything you are entitled to for reimbursement.”