October 16-22 is Teen Driver Safety Week, and it’s a great time for parents and close family and friends to talk to teen drivers they know about the risks they face while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) has teamed up with state and local highway safety and law enforcement organizations on the teen driver safety campaign “5 to Drive.” The education and awareness campaign identifies the five most important rules all teen drivers need to follow.
It is important that all parents of teen drivers, as well as relatives and close friends, make sure that these young men and women keep safe behind the wheel. The NTSA has developed some excellent common-sense tips for helping teens get down the road in one piece.
- No Drinking and Driving. Compared with other age groups, teen drivers are at a greater risk of death in alcohol-related crashes, even though they’re too young to legally buy or possess alcohol. 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. Front Seat and Back. Teens aren’t 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 for a teen driver can lead to disastrous results. Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teens in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior 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. Beginning a dialogue with teen drivers close to you is one step toward their not becoming another statistic.