The 12th annual National Teen Driver Safety Week takes place October 20-26, 2019. During this week, parents are urged to discuss road safety with their teens and the rules they should follow to stay safe behind the wheel.
Why Teen Driver Safety Must Be Addressed
In the United States, car accidents are still the leading cause of death among teenagers aged 15-19. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) highlights six dangerous driving behaviors of teenagers that lead to deaths on the road. Many fatalities can be avoided if teens practice safer driving.
- Drinking and driving. Despite being under the legal age to consume alcohol, alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth. In 2017, 15% of teen drivers involved in fatal car crashes had alcohol in their system.
- Not wearing a seat belt. In teen-related car crashes where the driver wasn’t wearing a seat belt, 87% of the passengers killed were also unbuckled.
- Distracted driving. In 2017, young people aged 15 to 19 accounted for 52% of all fatalities in teen distraction-affected crashes.
- Speeding. Speeding was a factor in 31% of teen driver fatalities in 2018.
- Driving with passengers. When a teen driver has a passenger in the vehicle, the risk of a fatal car crash doubles. With two or more passengers, the risk increases five times. Teen drivers with passengers tend to be more distracted behind the wheel.
- Drowsy driving. School, extracurricular activities, parties, and late-night texting mean teens often compromise on sleep. In 2016, teen drivers accounted for almost one out of every 10 fatal drowsy driving accidents.
Driving safety tips for teens
To avoid becoming part of these grim statistics, here are some teen driver safety tips to keep you and your fellow road users safe.
Don’t drive distracted
We get that teens suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). It’s hard to resist reaching for your cell phone while driving, but your phone isn’t going anywhere. You can check calls and messages when you arrive at your destination. Take the pledge to end distracted driving and encourage your friends to do the same.
Don’t drive recklessly
Young people are often oblivious to the dangers of reckless driving. A car is a piece of machinery that, under the wrong circumstances, can be deadly. Driving too fast can put you, your passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers at risk. Think about the consequences of reckless behavior and pledge to drive safely.
Take a defensive driving course
A defensive driving course will teach you driving techniques that will help you react faster to unexpected hazards, avert collisions, and safely navigate bad weather.
Tips for parents of teen drivers
According to a survey by the NHTSA, teens whose parents impose driving restrictions engage in less risky driving and are involved in fewer car crashes. Here’s what you can do to encourage your teen to follow safe driving habits.
Set the right example
Despite the fact that teens tend to resist their parents’ advice and do the opposite, parents are still the biggest influence in their lives. When driving, set a good example. You’ll be surprised how much they absorb and follow. What’s more, you won’t give them a reason to say, “Well, you text and drive, why can’t I?”
Explain the consequences of an underage DUI
Even if they are not injured or killed in an accident, your teen can face an underage DUI charge if they’re caught drinking and driving. This can severely affect future opportunities to study, get a job, or travel.
Sign a parent-teen driving contract
Once you reach an agreement with your teen on safe driving habits, put it in writing and hold them accountable to it. Click here to view the DriversEd.com Parent-Teen Driving Contract.
Suspend their driving privilege
If your teen is not abiding by the rules of safe driving, remove their car keys and only return it once they agree to be more responsible.
National Teen Driver Safety Week in October highlights the need for parents and teens to talk about safe driving but don’t let it end there. Keep the conversation going all through the year and continue to reinforce the importance of driving safely.