Posted on October 21st, 2020 by Zane Cagle
National Teen Driver Safety Week hopes to involve parents and teens in safe driving discussions. If you have a teen driver, you generally worry. Maybe you do not worry about your teen’s ability to drive, but you worry about other drivers. No matter how safe each us of are, we do worry that another driver will be careless resulting in a car accident.
There are challenges that are unique to teenagers. Exploration and patiently listening to parental advice is a hallmark of the teen years. Teen’s are not adults and as parents you have to support exploration and risk taking, yet provide a safety net. That is a difficult process when it comes to driving. Driving errors can often have serious if not fatal consequences. Studies have shown that reinforcing safe driving habits with your teen does increase their driving success. Additionally, safe driving habits established in the teen years often transition into safer adult drivers.
Facts About Teen Driver Fatalities
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of deaths for teens (15-18 years old) in the United States, ahead of all other types of injuries, disease or violence (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) In 2018, there were 2, 121 people killed in crashes involving a teen passenger vehicle driver (15-18 years old), of which 719 deaths were the teen drivers. When we think back to high school, it seems that everyone remembers losing at least one classmate to a motor vehicle crash. It was devastating. We each remember those deaths all too well. Lives cut short and the aftermath that impacted the families and students for weeks and years.
Parents can actually be the biggest influence on your teen driver’s choices behind the wheel. Some of the most important topics include impaired driving, seat belts, distracted driving, speeding and passengers.
Critical Safety Factors for Teen Driving
Impaired Driving. No parent wants to think that their teen is drinking under age, let alone driving. Obviously, teens cannot legally buy or consume alcohol. The reality that teens can get alcohol is a reality that all parents must face. Talking to your teen about the incredibly dangerous situation they will find themselves if they drive while drinking really cannot be overstated. The tragic stories of teens driving under the influence and a resulting car crash that kills should be very real. In 2018, 6 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system.
Alcohol is not the only substance that can impact the driver’s ability to react to their surroundings. Marijuana, prescription medications and over the counter medications can impact a driver. Teens generally have much less experience with these substances and may not understand the impact of various medications including over-the-counter medication on their driving. Talk with your teens.
Not only may they lose their licenses under strict penalties for teen drivers, the consequences can be deadly.
Seat Belts: Wearing a seat belt is one of the easiest ways for any driver to stay safe including teens. Yet, too many teens still do not buckle up. In 2018, almost half (45%) of the teen passenger vehicle drivers who died in crashes were unbuckled. Even more troubling, when the teen driver involved in the fatal crash was unbuckled, nine out of 10 of the passengers who died were also unbuckled. It is safe to say that the teen driver of the car sets the tone. Every single person should buckle up when they get into a motor vehicle whether they are the driver or a passenger.
Distracted Driving: Distractions while driving is risky for every driver, they can beyond just risky and be deadly. In 2018, among teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, almost 10% were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. Yes, we live in an age of social media. Encourage your driver to NEVER take selfies, send texts or be on any social media while driving, period. Adults continually show us that they struggle with exercising self-control when it comes to distracted driving. Set an example for your teen and don’t drive distracted and insist that your teen put their phone in the glove box while driving.
Speeding: In 2018, more than one-quarter (28%) of all teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. Males were found to be more likely to involved in fatal crashes than females. Speeding is breaking a rule of the road. Experienced drivers are more able to keep control while speeding, while not at all advisable. Teens however, lack the driving skills to speed. Roadways have speed limits for a reason. A speed limit is set after it is configured what a safe speed for that roadway is. However, because a speed limit is set, it does not mean that is the floor of the speed, rather the max speed to drive safely.
Passengers: Teens transporting passengers can lead to bad consequences. Research shows that the risk of fatal crash goes up dramatically in direct relation to the number of passengers in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers. This makes sense and lines up with most of our teen driving experiences.
Safety Goal for the Class of 2021
Every senior class has the same goal–successfully complete the academic year. Too often, there is a car crash fatality during the school year. When every teen practices safe driving, the likelihood of car crash fatalities being visited on your high school is reduced. The individual driving choices that each teen makes directly impacts their safety. It is so important for teens to establish safe driving behaviors that will directly impact them for the rest of their lives.
As a parent, you begin to feel like a broken record, but frequent reminders to your teen has shown to be effective. If your teen is driving recklessly, you would only hope that a neighbor or friend would let you know. At first, you may bristle and it is extremely difficult for someone to let you know that your teen is making driving mistakes. However, it is not a time to have tender feelings. Your teen’s ability to drive safe may have life or death consequences. Growing up in a small town, if a neighbor reported I was driving carelessly or too fast, my parents would promptly addressed the situation by eliminating my driving for awhile so I could “think about my driving”.
There really cannot be too much emphasis on safe driving for teens.
Refocus on Safety for All Drivers
While it is a great time for parents to refocus safety for teens, we all could use some timely reminders to drive safer. Drivers can become lax especially when they driver familiar routes. It can be easy to slip back into old, bad habits of texting while driving or failing to come to a complete stop at a STOP sign. And, unless it is an ingrained habit, people fail to wear their seat belts.
Buckle Up–Wearing your seat belt is one behavior you can do every day that increases your likelihood of surviving a car crash should one happen. No one plans a crash and unfortunately, crashes can happen to anyone. Seat belts do not guarantee that you will not be hurt, but they do promise to keep you in the vehicle. Staying in the vehicle is hands down far safer than being ejected. The survivor-ship of those ejected is low. Buckling up becomes a hard-wired habit after 30 days. Habitual seat belt users do not even consciously think about putting the seat belt on. It’s one of those great habits you want to adopt immediately and there is no better time than the present as too many Missouri drivers still fail to wear a seat belt.
Never Drive Impaired– Be an example for your teen. Adults can freely partake of alcohol but as an adult, it is our jobs to be responsible. Whether you are having drinks with colleagues or friends, either limit yourself to one or make an alternative plan. If your colleagues or friends are not concerned about impaired driving, you might want to consider why? Considering there are cabs, buses and Rid-share; there are so many options that do not include relying on others or driving under the influence.
Speeding– Obeying the rules of the roadway is simply being safe. When individuals crash at higher rates of speed, the crashes are statistically more serious and can be fatal. It is your responsibility to keep control of your vehicle at all times. When you are speeding, you have a much shorter distance to react should the car in front of you slow or come to a complete stop. Failing to negotiate a curve is a frequent description of a vehicle traveling too fast.
Car Accidents in Missouri
If you have been in a motor vehicle accident in Missouri and have injuries, then you will need legal assistance. No matter your age, recovering from an injury car crash is overwhelming. Everyone has questions as far as what they should do the day after and the weeks to follow. We guide our clients through this difficult process by setting up a plan.