Combining inexperience with teenage angst can be a deadly combination for teenagers on the road. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S., according to the CDC. Though a scary fact, there are ways parents can help reduce their teen’s risk.
Even though sometimes it may feel like your teenager isn’t listening, parents can have a huge impact on the way their teens drive. “Teens who say their parents set rules and pay attention to their activities in a helpful, supportive way are half as likely to crash (source).”Setting a good example with your own driving and helping your child understand the rules of the road and nuances of safe driving can go a long way in preventing crashes and keeping your teen from injuring himself or others.
Spend some time talking with your teen about risks that can increase the likelihood of a deadly crash and help your teen devise strategies for safely dealing with these risks. Making sure your teen is aware of the potential for these risks can help your teen as he or she gains more experience as a driver. Make sure your child is aware of these five areas of risk that can lead to accidents. Can’t happen to your teen? Share these stats to make your child aware of how often teen driving accidents occur.
Driving with Friends
”Two or more peer passengers more than triples the risk of a fatal crash with a teen at the wheel (source).”
Unfortunately, studies show that teens are more likely to get in an accident when driving with friends. Remind your child that distracted driving isn’t just limited to looking at a phone – conversations with friends can be just as distracting and deadly. Help your teen understand the responsibility that comes with choosing to drive and the dangers other passengers can pose.
“In 2011, speeding was a factor in more than half (52 percent) of fatal crashes with a teen behind the wheel, nearly the same percentage as in 2008 (source).”
Speeding can cause your teen to get a ticket, but have you helped your teen to consider how speeding can lead to an accident? Male teen drivers are especially likely to speed, so be sure to talk about the risks associated with speeding and the importance of obeying traffic laws for the safety of everyone on the road. Set a good example when driving with your teen by obeying the speed limit.
“55 percent of young adults (ages 13-20) that died in crashes were not wearing a seat belt in 2012, a 3 percent decrease from 2011 (source).”
Your teen may not think seatbelts aren’t “cool” or “fashionable,” but saving a life is always in style. No doubt your teen has learned about the importance of wearing a seatbelt since childhood, so set a house rule that your teen is required to wear a seatbelt at all times while riding or driving in the car.
“A third of teens self-report texting or emailing while driving (in the prior month), a proven deadly distraction for all drivers and especially teen drivers (source).”
One-third is one-third too many! Talk with your teen about the dangers of distracted driving and taking your eyes off the road when driving, which is especially dangerous when new to driving. Set a good example and enforce strict rules around phone use while driving.
“24 percent of teen passengers report recently* riding with a teen driver who had been drinking (source).”
…and that’s just recently! This scary stat is one that you can help minimize by talking it over with your teen. Remind your teen that someone doesn’t have to act “drunk” to be impaired behind the wheel, and set a good example by never drinking and driving yourself. Encourage your teen to make good choices before getting behind the wheel after drinking or getting a car with someone who has been drinking by calling for a ride.
For more information to help your teen drive safely, visit TeenDriverSource and download the TeenDrivingPlan Parent Guide.