In the US, nearly seven percent of drivers on the road are between 15 and 20 years old. Nearly 250,000 teens were killed or treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained in car accidents in 2013. Although 15-24 year olds account for only 14 percent of the U.S. population, they are responsible for 30 percent of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries according to the CDC.
Fortunately, teen car accidents are preventable! Preventing collisions is the best way to keep your family safe. The biggest causes of teen accidents are distractions and driving under the influence, but there are several things we can do to help keep teens safe on the road.
Teens don’t usually appreciate restrictions, but when a new driver is learning, it’s best to keep their focus on the car and the road, not on distractions like cell phones. Cell phones are distracting at all ages, and should be used for emergencies only while on the road.
Another distraction for teens is friends, who don’t always respect the driver as well as they should. Limiting passengers is one of the best ways to keep young drivers safe.
Limit Driving at Night
Driving during the day can be challenging enough for new drivers, and eliminating light doesn’t make it any easier. Until teen drivers are comfortable driving safely during the day, limiting their time behind the wheel after dark is a good way to keep them safe.
Follow the Speed Limit
Speed limits are set for a reason. Especially while they’re learning, teens should follow the speed limits - and all traffic rules.
Don’t Drive Under the Influence
Alcohol or drugs of any kind can impair judgment and reaction times. It’s important to educate teens about the dangers of driving under the influence - not only to themselves and their passengers, but to other drivers and pedestrians on the road.
Practice Safe Driving in Inclement Weather
Rain, sleet, fog, hail, snow, and other kinds of weather can make it difficult to see and drive safely. It’s important to practice driving in bad conditions with a teacher in the vehicle, but it’s also important to know when to get off the road and wait it out.
Always Wear a Seat Belt
Seat belts do save lives! Children, teens, and adults should always wear a seatbelt in the car, but especially when a teen driver is behind the wheel. If an accident does happen, it’s the best way to stay safe.
Education is Key
Ultimately, driving requires some maturity that many teens just don’t have. As a parents, teachers, and members of a global community, it’s our job to set a good example and educate children and teens.