Do you have a new driver in your family? While it can be an exciting time, the latest teen driving statistics are pretty sobering.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, although teen drivers (ages of 15 and 20) constitute almost 10 percent of all licensed drivers, they are involved in 12 percent of fatal motor vehicle-related crashes. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a 16-year-old driver is more than 20 times as likely to have a motor vehicle crash than any other licensed driver. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 20-year olds?
Our CHOC Children’s Community Education Department has put together some safety tips for teen drivers, passengers and parents:
As a driver:
Wear your seat belt and insist that passengers also wear theirs. In California, a driver can still get a ticket if their passenger is not buckled up.
Crash risk is particularly high during the first year that teenagers are eligible to drive. New drivers have elevated crash risks, especially for teens younger than 18. Young drivers are at greater risk for injury and death because they lack judgment that comes with maturity and skill that comes with practice.
It is OK to tell passengers, “Please do not distract me while I’m driving.” Research shows that a teen’s risk of being involved in a crash increases greatly with each peer passenger in the car.
Pull over to use your cell phone or have your passenger answer it instead.
As a passenger:
Always wear your seat belt. As children get older, studies show their seat belt use rates tend to decline. Parents tend to overestimate their teen’s seat belt use rate.
Respect your driver. Be helpful by reading directions, avoid talking loudly, or playing loud music.
It is OK to refuse to get in a car if you think it is an unsafe situation. Develop a code word. Calling or texting your parent with a previously agreed-upon code word that signals trouble can help teens get out of an unsafe situation.
As a parent:
Get involved! Involved parents who set rules and monitor their teens’ driving behavior in a supportive way can lower their teens’ crash risk by half.
Know the law. Many youngsters are eager to know when they can get a driver’s license. In California, they must be at least 16 years old to be eligible for a provisional driver’s license. There are special restrictions and requirements for drivers under 18. For more information, visit dmv.ca.gov
Be a good role model. Follow the rules of the road, do not talk or text on your phone while driving. Make sure you’re not speeding or tailgating.
Create a Passenger Agreement with your teen. By setting clear expectations, a Passenger Agreement can help reinforce key behaviors that keep teens safe as passengers now and as drivers later.
For more information from CHOC’s Community Outreach experts, please visit http://www.choc.org/community/