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National Teen Driver Safety Week quickly approaches

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has designated the week of October 15-21, 2017 as National Teen Driver Safety Week.

This is a time where parents or those of us with influence over a teen driver should find ways to communicate with teen drivers about traffic safety.  The communication should be about safe driving rules and keeping our teens safe while driving.  Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death to a teen ages 15 to 18 ahead of other types of injury, disease and violence. 

The greatest driving risks to this age group are:

  • alcohol
  • inconsistent or no seat belt use
  • distracted and drowsy driving
  • speeding
  • number of passengers

There were 1,972 teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015. An estimated 99,000 teen passenger vehicle drivers were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.

 

The Problem: Too many teens are dying on our roads

What should we be communicating about with teens and driving?

Alcohol: Even though it is illegal for teens to possess, purchase and consume alcohol, almost one out of five teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in a fatal crash had been drinking. 

Seat Belts: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for a teen driver to stay safe.  Yet in 2015, a total of 531 passengers died in passenger vehicles driven by teens.  58 percent of those passengers were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash.  In 84 percent of the cases where the teen driver was unbuckled, the passengers were also unbuckled. 

Distracted Driving: In 2015, among teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, 10 percent were reported as being distracted at the time of the crash. 

Speeding: In 2015, almost one-third or 29 percent of all teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. 

Passengers: Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of passengers in the car.  Multiple passengers who are distracting the driver triples the possibility of a crash.

Drowsy Driving: Teens are busy with school, studying, extracurricular activity, part-time jobs and spending time with friends among many other things.  With all of this, teens tend to compromise by not getting enough sleep.  This is a dangerous habit that can lead to drowsy driving and a crash. 

Keep in mind that those of us that are parents, or who have influence over a teen should be setting a good example as our teens actually listen to us and watch us more than we realize.  We need to be good role models and talk with the teen on safe driving regularly through the year.  Establish the rules and make sure the teen is observing the graduated Driver’s License regulations that are applicable to them. Remind our teens that driving is a privilege and not a right.  That if driving isn’t taken seriously, there may be injury or death caused by a crash and that the risk isn’t worth it. 

Take the time to remind them regarding the consequences of the points listed above.

Check out National Teen Driver Safety Week to learn more about safe driving tips.

 Contact James F. “Harry” Barger for more info.

Published October 6, 2017.

Madison College