Running October 21 through the 27th is National Teen Driver Safety Week according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Though it’s important to talk about every week, this week in particular is a great time for parents to sit down with their teens to discuss the importance of safe driving.
Unfortunately, the newest drivers are most at risk of crashing; 99,000 in 2015. The bigger problem, too many teens are dying on roads. According to NHTSA, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens 15-18 years old living in the US. In 2015 alone, 1,972 teen drivers were involved in fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes. Parents have the most power to influence teen’s choices while driving so it’s important to take the time to talk to teens about driving risks.
Not being old enough to buy or consume alcohol doesn’t stop teens from drinking and driving. In 2015, nearly 1 in 5 teen drivers were involved in a fatal car accident after consuming alcohol.
The simplest way to stay safe in the car, a seat belt, is too often ignored by teens when they are behind the wheel. In 2015, out of 531 passenger deaths with teen drivers, 58% of those passengers were not wearing seat belts. In cases where the teen driver wasn’t wearing his or her seat belt, passengers were also unbuckled 84% of the time.
As technology progresses, there are more and more distractions in the car. In 2015, 10% of fatal teen crashes were caused by distraction behind the wheel. Cell phones are partially responsible, but it doesn’t end there. Eating, drinking, and passengers are also causes of distraction in a vehicle.
Though speeding isn’t only a problem for teen drivers, in 2015, nearly 30% of all fatal crashes with teens behind the wheel were due to speeding.
Teens who are carrying passengers in their vehicle are at a higher risk of a fatal accident. Why? The more passengers in the vehicle, the higher the likelihood (triples) that teens will engage in risky behavior such as speeding, distracted driving, etc.
Combine teens inexperience driving with lack of sleep, and you get drowsy driving. This dangerous habit may be a result of busy teen schedules but it is important to set nighttime driving rules and to monitor the amount of sleep your teen is getting.
How do we improve teen driving safety? Taking the time to regularly talk to teens about the dangers of driving is a great first step. Surveys show that teens with parents who set rules for driving typically engage in less risky behaviors and are, therefore, involved in fewer crashes. Get the facts about teen driving and pass the information along to your teenager(s). Remind teens of the importance of eyes on the road, handles on the wheel, wearing seat belts, not drinking and driving, obeying speed limit signs, limiting passengers, and avoid driving drowsy. By being a good role model and discussing the risks with your teen, he or she may develop safer driving habits.
For additional resources concerning National Teen Driver Safety Week, head over to NHTSA’s dedicated webpage .