Driving is now the number one risk to teen safety.
If you have a teen driver – or a teen preparing to get a license, you, as the parent, can make a big difference in keeping your teen safe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 3,000 teens lose their lives in car crashes every year. In Nebraska, teenaged drivers represent 6% of all Nebraska drivers, yet account for 22% of crashes.
“Would you let your teen drive the length of a football field blindfolded? Of course not! Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds - at 55 mph the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field.”
Parents can make a difference!
There are 6 key driving hazards where parents can make a big difference in keeping a teen driver safe.
Hazard #1: Inexperience
The risk of crashing is highest the first year a teen drives. For at least six months, drive with your teen. Vary the time of day, type of road and weather conditions and advise your teen about dangerous conditions. Try to spend at least 30 hours in the car with your teen driving. Even great kids lack driving experience. I know it can be stressful - try to coach, not criticize.
Hazard #2: Night driving
Nearly half of all crashes occur between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. Ask your teen to be off the road by 9 p.m. for at least the first 6 months.
Hazard #3: Seat belt use
79% of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were not wearing a seat belt. Insist your teen buckle up. Be sure you do as well!
Hazard #4: Extra passengers
When teens drive with other teens in the car, the risk of an accident goes up. Follow the graduated driving laws by limiting the number of non-family, teen passengers your teen drives with.
Hazard #5: Speeding
Between 25% - 40% of crashes involve speeding – or driving too fast for the conditions on the road. Teens may underestimate the danger and overestimate their ability.
Hazard #6: Distracted driving
Your teenagers may roll their eyes - but, texting is prevalent - and extremely dangerous to all drivers! For instance, did you know - texting is involved in almost a third of all teen driving accidents? Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds - at 55 mph the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed!”
When your children were small, you protected them. Germs, strangers and the danger of crossing the road were just a few of the things you guarded your children against. The dangers driving poses to your teen are just as dangerous and just as real. As the parent of a teen, your active involvement in teaching and coaching your new driver will help keep them safe – and teach lifelong safe-driving habits.