Obtaining a driver’s license is an exciting time for a teenager, and the privilege to drive comes with a sense of freedom and maturity. However, all drivers must drive responsibly and follow traffic laws.
Unfortunately, teenage drivers see the highest rates of irresponsible driving behavior and may put their safety at risk.
As a parent or guardian, it is important to discuss safe driving behaviors and defensive driving with your child.
Using the latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) metrics, almost 2,500 teenagers in the United States were killed in 2018 due to motor vehicle crashes. Additionally, there were about 285,000 teens injured in accidents that same year. Motor vehicle crashes are the second-leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers.
With these eerie statistics, it is important to understand what behaviors cause these trends.
Why Are Teens At Risk For Dangerous Driving Behavior?
There are many reasons why teenagers may engage in or find themselves in dangerous driving situations. The following are three top causes.
Inexperience Behind The Wheel
As new drivers, teenagers cannot identify dangerous driving situations, as well as experienced motorists, can. This inexperience can be combined with factors like bad weather, road conditions, other drivers’ behavior, and sudden emergencies to cause an accident.
With experience and intuition, drivers can understand or predict when a dangerous driving situation may occur, and how they may be able to take proper precautions by using defensive driving tactics.
Poor Rates Of Seat Belt Usage
As many people know, seat belts save lives. Sadly, teenagers have the lowest rates of seat belt usage when compared to other age groups.
The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) Controlled Intersection study from 2016-2018 found that young adults (those aged 16-24) wore seat belts approximately 87% of the time. Conversely, adults aged 25 or older used seat belts at a rate of 90% or higher each year during the study.
Furthermore, a 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that 43.1% of United States high school students admitted to not wearing a seat belt when riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle.
Approximately half of the drivers and passengers aged 16-19 who died in car accidents in 2018 were unrestrained according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report.
These statistics underscore the importance of seat belt use and how better adherence could help save teenage lives.
Like many other age groups, teenage drivers engage in distracted driving. Whether this is texting and driving or simply taking eyes off the road for more than a few seconds, the driver puts everyone in danger.
A 2019 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that 39% of United States high school drivers admitted to texting or emailing while driving in the last 30 days.
As a driver, it is imperative to drive without distractions and stow away electronic devices before beginning your trip. Doing so can help prevent distractions and the urge to instantly respond to a message.
No text is worth risking someone’s life.
How Parents Can Protect Their Teenage Drivers?
To help keep your teenage driver safe on the road, it is important to have an in-depth discussion about what safe driving behavior looks like.
Attorney Jeff Shiver of Shiver Hamilton has served teenagers who have been hurt in motor vehicle accidents. With years of experience, here is some guidance for how parents can help prevent injuries.
“As with any other driver, new teenage drivers should understand the rules of the road,” says Attorney Jeff Shiver. “Namely, they should understand the importance of driving without distractions and prioritizing safety. For parents of teenagers, this begins with modeling appropriate driving behavior and having family discussions about driving. To help keep your teenagers safe on the road, be sure to serve as a model driver yourself and explain that safe driving is a responsibility for everyone on the road.”
When having these conversations, realize that statistics alone may not persuade your teenager to engage in safe driving behaviors. You may need to help explain the personal impact car crashes can have on their health, others, and the community at large.
At the end of the day, many different parties are injured in a car crash. With the appropriate driving precautions, however, your teenager can play a part in making the roads a safer place.