Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 19 year olds in the United States. More than 59% of teens killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt. Speeding was a factor in 30% teen driver fatalities. These shocking statistics are why the National Teen Driver Safety Week was established. The week of October 21 is dedicated to raising awareness and seeking solutions to preventable teen deaths and injuries on the road.
An important part of teaching your teenagers safe driving skills is to “practice what you preach.” If you frequently break the speed limit laws, run red lights and text illegally, you shouldn’t be surprised when your teen follows your example. Remind your teen driver of the importance of reducing distractions, which includes multiple passengers, loud music, and of course his or her cell phone. Teenagers often feel invincible now that they have a new sense of freedom and independence; however, they may not understand the immense responsibility that comes along with these privileges. Frees Insurance has a Teen Driving Contract that we encourage parents and teen drivers to read & sign.
NHTSA’s website, www.safercar.gov/parents, has detailed information and statistics on teen driving and five basic rules parents can use to help save the lives of teen drivers:
No Drinking and Driving. All teens are too young to legally buy or possess alcohol, but they are still at risk. Nationally in 2014, one out of five teen passenger vehicle drivers (15 to 19 years old) involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. Remind your teen that driving under the influence of any impairing substance, including illicit or prescription drugs, could have deadly consequences.
Buckle Up. Every Trip, Every Time, Everyone—Front Seat and Back. Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. Yet, too many teens are not buckling up and neither are their passengers. In 2014, there were 763 passengers killed in passenger vehicles driven by teen (15-19 years old) drivers, and 59 percent of those passengers who died were NOT buckled up at the time of the fatal crash. When the teen driver was also unrestrained, the percentage of those passengers who were not restrained jumped to almost 86 percent. Remind your teen that it’s important for everyone to buckle up on every trip, every time, no matter what.
Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel. All the Time. – Distractions while driving are more than just risky—they can be deadly. In 2014, among teen passenger vehicle drivers (15-19 years old) involved in fatal crashes, 10 percent were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. Remind your teen about the dangers of texting, dialing, or using mobile apps while driving. But distracted driving isn’t limited to cell phone use. Other passengers, audio and climate controls in the vehicle, and eating or drinking while driving, are all examples of dangerous distractions for teen drivers.
Stop Speeding Before It Stops You. Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially teens. In 2014, almost one-third (30%) of teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in a fatal crash were speeding at the time of the crash. Remind your teen to drive within the speed limit.
No More Than One Passenger at a Time. Extra passengers in a teen’s car can lead to disastrous results. According to data analyzed by NHTSA, teen drivers were two-and-a-half times more likely to engage in one or more potentially risky behaviors when driving with one teenage peer compared to when driving alone. And the likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behaviors triples when traveling with multiple passengers.
Parents can help protect their teen drivers by talking with them about these risks. Surveys show that teens whose parents set firm rules for driving typically engage in less risky driving behaviors and are involved in fewer crashes.