Every day, thousands of teenagers get behind the wheel and take to the roads. And while most teens are safe and responsible drivers, accidents involving teen drivers are all too common. That’s why January is Teen Driving Awareness Month—a time for parents to be extra vigilant about their teen’s driving habits and ensure they stay safe on the road.
Did you know that auto accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States? According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 2,800 teens lost their lives, and around 227,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents in 2020.
Among teen drivers, young males ages 16-19 had a death rate three times as high as the death rate for female drivers in the same age category. Newly licensed teens and teens driving with other young passengers were also at a higher risk of an accident.
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of accidents involving teen drivers, and it comes in many forms. Cell phone use while driving is a major problem among teens—texting, calling, or even checking social media accounts can divert a driver’s attention from the road and lead to accidents.
Other distractions include:
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Changing the music or radio station
- Talking with other passengers in the car
All of these activities can increase the risk of an accident by taking away focus from the task at hand—driving safely.
Because teens are fairly new to being behind the wheel, they also tend to underestimate how dangerous certain behaviors can be. Teens often don’t understand how much time they need to stop if they’re going too fast; when you’re driving at high speeds, it takes much longer for your car to slow down than it does at slower speeds.
Speeding is another big problem among young drivers; according to another statistic from the CDC, about 1 in 3 crash deaths involves speeding. Sadly, male drivers between the ages of 15-20 are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes involving speeding.
Lack of Seatbelts
Teens are not a fan of seatbelts, but they should be. 56% of teens in fatal accidents were not wearing seatbelts at the time of their crash. According to the NHTSA, almost 15,000 lives were saved in 2017 just by wearing a seatbelt.
Driving Under the Influence
Every year, driving under the influence leads to numerous deaths among teens throughout the country. The reality is that drinking and driving can severely affect reaction time and coordination, significantly impacting a teen’s ability to operate a car safely. Teens already do not have the experience to handle highly-reactive situations while sober, so they are most at risk of getting into a car accident when under the influence.
Driving at Night or on the Weekend
Many do not know, but nighttime driving is much more dangerous than driving during the day. In 2020, around 44% of motor vehicle accidents among teens ages 13-19 occurred between 9 P.M. and 6 A.M. 50% of recorded accidents happened on weekends.
As a parent, it’s important to be aware of the dangers associated with teen driving and to take steps to ensure your teen’s safety while behind the wheel. Let’s look at some tips for becoming more involved in your teenager’s driving experience.
Tips for Your Teens
Educate Them on Safe Driving Practices
It’s essential to ensure your teen understands the basics of safe driving, like following traffic laws, paying attention to their surroundings, and avoiding distractions like using their phone while driving. Encourage them to drive defensively and always wear their seatbelt—not only is it a legal requirement, but it could save their life in an accident. You should also discuss common driving mistakes, such as speeding or not yielding correctly at intersections. Educating your teenager on safe driving practices will help keep them safe while they’re out on the road.
Setting ground rules with your teenager is essential to keeping them safe. Make sure they understand what behaviors are unacceptable while behind the wheel, including anything from aggressive or reckless driving to drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel.
Also, consider setting boundaries on when they can drive—for example, not allowing them to drive late at night or after certain times. These rules can help reduce their risk of being involved in an accident due to tiredness or other factors.
Monitor Their Driving Habits
Another way you can help protect your teenager is by monitoring their driving habits. You could install a tracking device in their car so that you can see where they are going and how fast they’re driving at any given time. You could also sign up for a service that will send you notifications if your teen breaks any of your set ground rules (e.g., exceeding speed limits). This type of monitoring can help give you peace of mind that your teen is abiding by the rules and staying safe while out on the roads.
As parents, it’s our responsibility to educate our teenagers on safe driving practices and set appropriate ground rules and limitations when operating a vehicle. By taking these steps, we can help keep our teenagers safe from automobile accidents and enjoy peace of mind knowing that our children are responsible drivers!
If your child has been involved in a car accident, be sure to give DiPasquale Moore a call at (816) 888-7500 or visit our website for more information.