Talking to Your Teen About Safe Driving
When teens begin to drive, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council, the sobering statistics start to pile up:
• Car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens ages 14 through 18.
• A teen’s crash risk is three times that of more experienced drivers.
• Being in a car with three or more teen passengers quadruples a teen driver’s crash risk.
• More than half of teens killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt.
You can help your young driver make better decisions behind the wheel. Set a good example yourself. Have a serious discussion about the following issues, all of which have a large impact on the safety of teen drivers:
• Speed: According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, speeding continues to grow as a factor in fatal crashes involving teen drivers. Thirty-three percent of such accidents in 2011 involved excessive speed. While a lot of emphasis is rightfully placed on the risks of driving under the influence or while distracted, the danger of speeding is just as important.
• Alcohol: If drivers are under 21, driving with any amount of alcohol in their system is illegal. It’s as simple as that.
• Seat belts: Teens don’t use their seat belts as frequently as adults, so it’s important to set a good example and always have yours on. Seat belts are the simplest way to be protected in a crash.
• Phones: Distracted driving is dangerous driving, especially for an inexperienced teen. That means no calls or texting when behind the wheel — no exceptions.
• Passengers: The risk of a fatal crash goes up as the number of passengers in a teen driver’s car increases, according to the NHTSA.
Of course, any driver needs to have a good grasp on the laws and rules of the road and, because teens don’t have much experience, it’s important to have regular conversations about safe driving. How teens drive doesn’t just depend on them. It depends on you, too!