It’s a sad fact, but motor vehicle accidents are still the number one killer of 15- to 19-year-olds in the U.S. In 2013, 130,000 teens in this age group were injured and 2,614 were killed in car crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol, texting, seat belts, speeding, and extra passengers are the five biggest safety issues facing teen drivers today.
In light of National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 18-24, 2015, we encourage you to talk to your teen drivers about these specific risk areas. NHTSA calls the following rules the “5 to Drive.” Discuss the reasons behind these rules with your teens and then enforce them through regular communication, spot checks, and suspension of driving privileges when rules are broken.
- No cell phones while driving. Talking and texting on a phone is distracted driving, and anything that distracts a driver’s attention away from driving can lead to a fatal crash.
- No extra passengers. When teen drivers transport other teen passengers, their chances of being in fatal crashes increase. Set a limit of one or two passengers with your teen.
- No speeding. It is important to note that 29 percent of fatal teen crashes involved teen drivers who were speeding.
- No alcohol. Even though teens are too young to legally buy and drink alcohol, about one in five teen drivers involved in deadly crashes in 2013 had consumed alcohol. Always know where your teen is and what they are doing when they have a car or are with other teens with cars.
- No driving or riding without a seat belt. Many teen drivers and their passengers refuse to buckle up, and the numbers don’t lie. In 2013, 64 percent of teen passengers who died in crashes caused by teens weren’t restrained.
Talking with teen drivers about these key components of safe driving can impact a teenager’s decisions; however, only 25 percent of parents have had serious talks with their teenage drivers about the aforementioned topics, according to a recent survey. Because risky driving behaviors are often a result of immaturity and peer influence, it is critical that parents of teen drivers spend some time discussing safe driving behaviors and setting up rules before handing over the car keys.
Talk with your teenagers and share this message on Facebook with those you know who are parents of teen drivers. Let’s keep our kids safe on the road.