For any teenager, few moments are as exciting as when they earn their driver’s license, which serves as an unofficial invitation to increased independence.
As exciting as driving can be for teens, it’s often a source of concern for their parents.
Young drivers do not have much experience behind the wheel. When coupled with teenagers’ propensity for engaging in risky behaviors, that inexperience can be a cause for anxiety for their parents. Parents aren’t overreacting, as statistics indicate how precarious a combination of teens and driving can be.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. In 2017, 2,364 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed in motor vehicle accidents, and about 300,000 were treated at an emergency room for injuries suffered in crashes.
- Sixteen-year-old drivers in the U.S. have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age, notes the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation notes that 229 teens were killed in distraction-related crashes in 2017.
- Geico Insurance’s “Teen Driving Statistics” says one in five 16-year-old drivers is involved in an auto accident within their first year of driving.
- Inadequate instruction may contribute to the alarming accident statistics involving teen drivers. According to Carcontrol.com, the average 16-year-old soccer player gets 1,500 hours of coaching. Conversely, only 50 hours of driving experience is required in some states for a driver’s license.
- The following strategies can help keep teen drivers and the roads they traverse safe:
- Enforce seat belt use, as teens and young adults tend to have the lowest seat belt use rates, offers the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Encourage teens to slow down while driving. Insufficient distance between vehicles and driving over the speed limit increases the risk of being involved in an accident.
- Even though alcohol consumption is illegal for people under the age of 21 in the U.S., many teens have admitted to drinking or riding with others under the influence. Drinking alcohol slows reaction time and may loosen inhibitions, which is dangerous for any driver and may be especially so for inexperienced teen drivers. Initiate a parent-teen pact to always ask for a ride and avoid drunk driving.
- Rally for stricter graduated driver licensing requirements. Many states have a GDL program with certain restrictions but perhaps even more stringent restrictions can keep teens safer, longer.
With support from parents, lawmakers, law enforcement and teens themselves, teen driving accidents and injuries can be reduced.
– Courtesy Metro Creative