National Teen Driving Safety Week

October 19, 2019
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Learning to drive is an exciting milestone in a teen’s life that brings them one step closer to adulthood. But some teens are gravely underestimating the driving risks that can lead to life-threatening accidents.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens between the ages of 15 to 18. Sixteen-year-olds have the highest crash rate across all driving age groups in the United States, with 1 in 5 getting into a serious accident within their first year of driving.

Today marks the beginning of National Teen Driving Safety Week. Regardless of whether your teen has had their license for years or is just beginning to drive, now is the perfect time to see what they know about road safety and how to improve their driving skills to reduce accidents.

Getting Involved Makes A Difference

Parents have more input on their teen’s driving behaviors than they think. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), parents can be the number one ally or the number one threat to the success of their teen driver on the road.

At least 56 percent of teens learn to drive from their parents, but this doesn’t include the indirect lessons they get at an early age. Every time you are in the car with your child, they are learning how to drive. If you text and drive, eat and drive, or frequently blast the music in the car, your teen driver will remember these actions as acceptable things to do behind the wheel.

Talking with your teen about safe driving behaviors is the best first step to seeing how much they know about the dangers of the road. Starting a conversation is not always easy, but these suggestions may help get you on the right track to protecting your teen behind the wheel.

Know The Facts

An average of six teen drivers die every day from crash-related injuries. This statistic is enough to make any parent worry. But how do you get your teen driver to share the same concern?

Reviewing these crash stats from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is a perfect way to find out what they already know about the dangers of the road. It can help spark a conservation about what they perceive to be dangers or their misconceptions about certain reckless driving behaviors:

– 1,830 teen drivers ages 15-20 died from car crashes in 2017.
– 54% of teens admit to talking on the phone when driving.
– 56% of teens will not speak up if another teen driver they are with is driving recklessly.
– Most teen driver crashes are caused by three critical errors: lack of scanning, speeding, and distractions.
– Teens are more likely to crash while impaired, using a cell phone, or when they have passengers in the car.
– The most common teen driving crashes are left turns, rear-end accidents, and running off the road.
– Teen driving accidents most often occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
– Most teen drivers have significant skill deficits when they graduate from their driving programs.

Review The Eight Danger Zones

Knowing how to prevent motor vehicle accidents starts with understanding how they occur. The C.D.C. highlights eight driving danger zones that lead to fatal accidents involving teen drivers that parents should review at home:

1. Driver Inexperience: This is the leading cause of all teen driving accidents in the country. Most teen drivers will crash at least once in their first year of driving. Parents can help reduce these rates by providing more supervised driving time with their teens, even after they get their license.
2. Driving With Passengers: Teens do not always prioritize safety when around friends. Restrict your teen from driving with passengers until you know they are a safe driver. Experts recommend limiting passenger for at least the first 6-months.
3. Nighttime Driving: The dangers of nighttime driving increases for teen drivers who are not as experienced in spotting road hazards. Try to get your teen off the road by 9 p.m. when accident rates tend to rise. Practice nighttime driving with your teen to help them get comfortable driving in the dark before you allow them to drive later.
4. Seat Belts: Wearing seatbelts can reduce fatalities in car crashes by 45 percent and injuries by 50 percent. Make it a rule that your teen must wear their seatbelt in order to drive. Statistics show that teens who have parents involved with their driving are twice as likely to wear their seatbelt on the road.
5. Distracted Driving: Parents should be strict with their teens about not using electronics behind the wheel. Other distractions can include passengers, radio volume, eating, and fixing hair/doing makeup. Discourage your teen from doing any of these behaviors while driving to reduce their chances of accidents.
6. Drowsy Driving: Your teen may not know they are too tired to drive. Teach your teen about the dangers of fatigued driving and the risks of not getting enough sleep.
7. Reckless Driving: Teen drivers lack the experience, judgment, and maturity to understand the true dangers behind reckless driving behaviors. Encourage your teen to follow the speed limit and avoid aggressive driving behaviors. The longer they go on practicing reckless driving, the more they will come to accept the behaviors as safe.
8. Impaired Driving: One drink can significantly impair your teen’s ability to drive. Review the dangers of drinking and driving every time they go some place where it could occur. Create a plan for alternative transportation home if they do find themselves impaired.

Be A Role Model

Remember, your teens are watching. If you have identified any of the eight danger zones as behaviors you are currently doing behind the wheel, stop. No matter how young your children are, they are always learning from you. Be a good driving role model to encourage safe driving behaviors from the very beginning.

Create A Parent-Teen Driving Agreement

Hold your teen accountable for their pledge to drive safely on the road. Parents can create a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement to lay out all of the house rules for both parties to understand and agree on before your teen is allowed to drive. These rules can include anything from:

– Always wearing a seatbelt.
– Obeying all traffic laws.
– Driving the speed limit.
– Never texting and driving.
– Never drinking and driving.
– Never allowing alcohol or drugs in the car.
– Driving only when they have permission.

To download a complete Parent-Teen Driving Agreement, you can find one here!

Share Your Knowledge

Driving has changed significantly over the years, and parents may feel lost when it comes to addressing the topic with their teens. Thankfully, there are several different avenues parents can take to gather and share helpful information to protect their teens on the road, including:

– Parent Social Groups
– Health Clubs
– Parent-Teacher Association Meetings
– Faith-Based Organizations
– Social Network Blogs and Groups
– Work Supports and Friends
– School Events

For additional resources to help you discuss safe driving with your teen, the C.D.C. Parent Resource Page is full of helpful information.

Remember, driving is a privilege that can turn deadly when things go wrong. If your teen is not committed to driving safely on the road, take the keys away until they are.

Connecticut Car Accident Attorneys

Connecticut drivers have a responsibility to keep everyone safe on the road. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident due to the negligent acts of someone else, you may be eligible to receive compensation for any damages suffered. Contact our expert team of personal injury attorneys at Jacobs & Wallace for a free consultation to explore your options.

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