October 19-25 is National Teen Driver Safety Week, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s safety campaign for teen drivers. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of death for youth ages 14 to 18 in the United States. Statistics show that almost half of teens involved in car crashes die. However, a recent survey shows that only 25 percent of parents have a serious talk with their teens about safe driving. The NHTSA encourages parents during this week to make a point to discuss safe driving tactics with their teens.
Whether you think your teens are listening to you, they are. Parents are the biggest influence on a teen’s life. This is why it is so important for parent’s to take the time to talk with their kids about safe driving.
The NHTSA stresses 5 major components which threaten teen driver safety:
- Alcohol. Compared to all age groups, teens are at the biggest risk of dying in an alcohol-related car crash even though they are too young to legally buy or drink alcohol. Nationally in 2012, 28 percent of the young drivers, ages 15 to 20 years old, who were killed in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher.
- Seat belts. Wearing a seat belt is one of the easiest and most effective ways to ensure your safety in a car. However, teens aren’t wearing their seat belts. In 2012, of all the young (15- to 20-year-old) passenger vehicle drivers killed in crashes, 55% of those killed were unbuckled.
- Texting. Texting is one of the riskiest things one can do while driving.In 2012, among drivers 15 to 19 years old who were distracted in fatal crashes, nearly 1 in 5 were distracted by phones. This age group had the highest percentage of drivers distracted by phone use.
- Speeding. Driving over the speed limit was a factor in almost half (48 percent) or fatal crashes involving 15 to 20 year olds in 2012.
- Passengers. Teens tend to be very social, which is a safety risk in a car. A recent study by the Allstate Foundation found that half of all teen drivers admit that they are safer drivers without their friends as passengers.
During National Teen Driver Safety Week, parents are urged to talk with their teens about these statistics, and to remind them that driving is a privilege to be taken seriously. Surveys show that teens whose parents impose driving restrictions often are involved in less risky driving and less car crashes. The NHTSA created the “5 to Drive” campaign, which is 5 driving rules that address the main 5 safety threats discussed above.
Parents are encouraged to share these rules with their teens:
- No Drinking and Driving. Remind your teen that the legal drinking age is 21, and stress that alcohol and driving never mix. Set a good example by never driving after drinking.
- Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Front Seat and Back. Remind your teen that it is always necessary to use your seat belt, even on a short trip. Lead by example and always buckle your own seat belt.
- Put It Down. One Text or Call Could Wreck It All. Share texting and driving statistics with your teens. Remind your teen that the phone is off-limits while driving. Be sure to never text or drive as well, and do not text your teen when you know they are driving.
- Stop Speeding Before It Stops You. Inform your teen that when you are driving, every time your speed doubles, your stopping distance quadruples. Drive the speed limit and encourage your teen to do the same.
No More Than One Passenger at Any Time. Encourage your teen to never drive with more than one passenger at a time. Consult your state’s GDL law.