What can I do to ensure my teen drives safely?
That is a great question that I am sure crosses every parent’s mind once their teen becomes a licensed driver. I am addressing this question in honor of National Teen Driver Safety Week, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-to 19-year-olds in the United States. In fact, in 2014 there were 2,679 teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes and an estimated 123,000 teens were injured. Parents need to take the time to talk with their teens about the many dangers of driving, according to the NHTSA. Those dangers include alcohol, lack of seat belt use, distracted driving, speeding, and extra passengers.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s NHTSA developed a campaign to help parents discuss five common sense, yet critical driving practices with their teenage drivers that can have the greatest beneficial impact to prevent a crash. The “5 to Drive” campaign gives parents and teens a simple, straightforward list that can help them talk about good driving skills and most importantly, prevent a tragedy before it happens.
The “5 to Drive” campaign encourages parents to discuss with their teens one safety topic each day during national teen driver safety week—or all at once. Try posting it on the refrigerator, leave a love note in the vehicle or include a reminder in their lunch. Most importantly, emphasize how much you love them and don’t want to lose them.
The “5 to Drive” campaign topics are:
1. No cell phone use or texting while driving. It’s against the law, however, in a survey by dosomething.org, 56% of teens said they talk on the phone while driving.
2. No extra passengers. The more passengers in the vehicle, the higher the risk of an accident. Try to limit one friend in the vehicle at a time. Peer pressure is a major contributing factor in teen crash deaths. Moreover, one NHTSA study found that a teenage driver was 2.5 times more likely to engage in risky behaviors when driving with one teenage passenger and three times more likely with multiple teenager passengers.
3. No speeding. Perhaps you want them to know that if your teen speeds and gets a ticket—there will be consequences. Insurance rates will go up and as a parent consider consequences affecting them such as paying for the increased insurance and losing driving privileges.
4. No alcohol. Also illegal for teens and they run the risk of losing their license with a DUI on their record, should they be stopped.
5. No driving or riding as a passenger without a seat belt. When the teen driver in a fatal crash was unrestrained, almost four-fifths of that driver’s teen passengers were unrestrained as well.
Lack of experience, judgment and maturity, as well as peer pressure contribute to poor choices among teen drivers. Teens also suffer from “It won’t happen to me” syndrome or delusions of “I’m a great driver!” It is only for those reasons that you need to discuss these teen driver statistics with your son or daughter:
• More than half of the teen occupants of passenger vehicles who died in crashes were not wearing seat belts.
• Speeding was a factor in 35 percent of fatal crashes involving a teen driver.
• At least 12 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash.
• Despite the fact that all states have Zero Tolerance Laws for drinking and driving under age 21, 505 people nationwide died in crashes in which drivers 18 and under had alcohol in their systems.
• Only 44% of teens said they would definitely speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them. Make it comfortable for your teen to know if they don’t feel safe in a friend’s vehicle, it is okay to call you for a ride, no matter what time of night.
Another tip and manner in which you can be a role model, is to allow enough time to get to your destination. If you’re running late, do you speed? Instill in your teen that it is more important to arrive a little late than never arrive because of a crash, but more importantly, allow enough time to get to school or other destination on time.
Lastly, there are devices you can purchase and apps you can download to monitor your teen’s location and driving. That is certainly an option and an investment worth making. Check out all of the tips and devices on the web. You’ll be glad you did. After all, nothing is more important than the safe return of your teen every time they leave the house.
All of us at Jaffarian Volvo Toyota wish you well as you are charged with the most difficult job in the world—being a parent, particularly to a teen. I am the parent of both a son and daughter and I understand the challenges, too!