October 15 - 21, 2017 is Teen Driver Safety Week. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urges parents to talk with their teens about ways to stay safe on the road. The NHTSA offers additional resources and materials to help parents have conversations with their kids about safe driving practices.
Recognize the Leading Risk Factors for Teen Driver Accidents
Young drivers are vulnerable to injury and death in traffic accidents. Traffic crashes outpace all diseases, violence, and other unintentional injuries as the leading cause of death for teens between the ages of 15 and 18.
The NHTSA recommends having conversations with teens about safe driving throughout the year, not just during Teen Driver Safe Driving Week. The traffic safety agency points to several hazards for which teen drivers are at risk:
- Drinking and driving. Nearly 20 percent of teen drivers in fatal car accidents have alcohol in their bloodstreams. Parents are in the best position to intervene on this issue, setting strict rules about drinking and driving and taking away the keys if the teen violates the rule. Make sure your kids also know that street drugs and prescription medicines can impair their driving as much as alcohol.
- Failure to wear a seatbelt. It is well-known that wearing your seatbelt is one of the best ways to avoid injury or death in the event of a motor vehicle accident. Unfortunately, many teens do not wear seatbelts. And more than half of the passengers who die in crashes while riding with a teen driver are not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.
- Distracted driving. Young drivers are more susceptible to distractions than older, more experienced drivers. Teens are used to walking around while texting or using apps on their cell phones. Many carry this behavior over into driving. Experts blame a significant number of teen driver crashes on distracted driving. And the actual numbers are likely much higher than the reported numbers since distraction can be difficult to prove. Eating, grooming, using navigation apps, and operating the stereo and other vehicle gadgets can also be sources of distraction.
- Passengers. Having passengers in the car only leads to the distraction for an inexperienced young driver. Drivers may also be more likely to engage in risky driving behavior when they have passengers in the vehicle.
- Drowsy driving. Many teens are sleep-deprived. They go to school full-time and may work a part-time job, participate in extracurricular activities, and have a social life. Drowsy driving is a form of impaired driving.
- Speeding. Driving too fast for the conditions is one of the leading causes of fatal crashes with teen drivers. Parents should remind teens to obey the posted speed limit and reduce speed in hazardous conditions like rain or fog.
What You Can Do to Keep Your Teen Driver Safe
Parents can do these five things to help their teen drivers stay safe on the road:
- Have regular talks with your kids about the deadly consequences of unsafe driving.
- Make rules and consequences, and put this into a written contract signed by you and your child.
- Enforce rule violations. While it might cause an unpleasant reaction from a teen driver eager to exercise some independence, take away the keys if you have to.
- Have your child drive with you in the car to make sure she follows your safety rules.
- Set a good example. If you say one thing and do another, you will lose credibility with your teen. Always use your seat belt. Never drink and drive. Do not use your phone or apps when driving. Avoid driving when tired. Obey the speed limit.
If you or your teen ever suffer injuries in an accident that is not your fault, call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC at 404-474-0804 to set up your free consultation.