Yesterday marked the start of National Teen Driving Safety Week 2018. This awareness week began in 2007, and 11 years later, it is as relevant and as needed as ever. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cites car accidents as the leading cause of teenage deaths in the United States. Fatal accidents occur three times as much in teens when compared to all other drivers.
The problem has worsened in recent years. In 2016, 2,288 people died in car accidents involving a teen driver (15-18 years old). 814 of those deaths were teen drivers themselves — up 6% from the previous year.
As parents, it’s easy to think our words fall on deaf ears, but the truth is, your voice matters more than anything else. You can influence your teen’s driving, and I hope that my tips below help to guide your family’s discussion.
What are the biggest risk factors?
—Drugs and alcohol. Teens may be too young to legally buy or consume alcohol, but driving under the influence remains a big problem. In 2016, nearly 1 in 5 drivers involved in a fatal crash had been drinking. The same year, 6.5% of young people 12-17 years old used marijuana, which strongly impacts a driver’s ability to react behind the wheel.
—Seat belts. There are still too many teens who refuse to buckle up. In 2016, 569 passengers were killed in cars driven by a teen, and 54% of those passengers were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
—Distracted driving. Teens ages 15-18 have the largest percentage of drivers who were distracted at the time of a crash when compared to all other age groups.
—Speeding. In 2016, 31% of all teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding. This problem affects males more than females.
—Passengers. While it isn’t always possible to drive alone, research has found a strong correlation between the risk of a fatal crash and the number of passengers in a car.
—Drowsy driving. Studying, extracurriculars, jobs, and socializing all take a toll on a teen’s energy, and the risks of drowsy driving can be deadly.
Driving skills to focus on
In general, teens typically need parental guidance on the following aspects of their driving.
—Managing speed. Does your teen understand why speed limits are lower in residential and congested areas? Make sure he or she knows where to find speed limit signs and how to reduce speed during inclement weather and at night.
—Reducing distractions. Distractions go far beyond texting and talking on the phone while driving. As I mentioned above, driving in a car packed with other teenagers is a big distraction — one often accompanied by pressure to drive faster or blast the radio. Consider limiting the number of passengers your teen is allowed to drive with.
—Scanning the road. Avoiding distractions isn’t enough — teens must actively pay attention when they drive. Driving proactively gives you more time to react and avoid potential hazards.
Get Legal Help After a Car Crash
At Darrell Castle & Associates, we understand the physical and emotional toll of a car accident. If you or a loved one has been the victim of dangerous teen driving, call us to get the compensation you need and deserve.
Contact us online today or call 901-327-1212 to speak in person with the auto accident lawyer Memphis TN trusts with their cases.