Statistics and news stories often don’t match up. For as much as shark attack fatalities (10/yr) are televised, you’re far more likely to be killed by your bathtub (over 300/yr), for example. Feel free to go swimming, but you might want to rethink taking a bath.
Across the country, the driver’s license is a rite of passage, and tens of thousands of teens will get their learner’s permits or driver’s licenses and ask, “Parental Unit, can I borrow the keys?” or “Can I go with my BFF to the mall?” Sadly, thousands of teens never make it home. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), 2,270 teens aged 16-19 were killed in traffic accidents in 2014. Another quarter-million teens were treated in emergency rooms for traffic-accident related injuries.
National Teen Driver Safety Week – October 16 to 22, 2016
To raise awareness of this staggering problem, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) is encouraging teens and their parents and guardians to watch out for the five major causes of accidents among teen drivers and passengers:
- Alcohol slows down reaction times and impairs judgement. Although it is illegal for teens to buy or consume alcohol, 20% of teen traffic fatalities involved drinking. Impairment by drugs, illegal or prescribed, is no different.
- Seat Belts are the easiest way to protect yourself in case of an accident. Required by law across the country, it’s surprising that 59% of teen passenger fatalities could have been prevented by proper seatbelt use.
- Distracted Driving can be nearly as impairing as alcohol, resulting in delayed reaction times and poor judgement. Phone calls, texting, gaming, and social media, even just fishing for the phone charger has resulted in some 10% of all teen traffic fatalities.
- Speed kills thousands of people every year, and some 30% of teen traffic fatalities can be attributed to driving over the speed limit, over their experience level, or over the limits imposed by traffic, weather, and their own vehicles.
- Passengers can lighten the mood and save fuel, but they can also seriously increase the risk of teen traffic fatalities. More passengers mean more distractions, and each extra passenger increases the chance that the driver will engage in other risky driving behaviors.
How Can You Help Your Teen Driver?
True, National Teen Driver Safety Week only lasts a week, but considering that one teen dies every four hours in a traffic accident, 42 teens will have died by the end of the week, 99% of them preventable. As a parent or guardian, you have the biggest influence on your teen’s driving habits. Don’t limit your example and advice to this week, but talk to your teens every time you go out on the road and set the right example yourself: don’t drink and drive, don’t talk and text, always wear your seatbelt, obey the speed limit.
We want all our teen drivers on the road in the future, right up until they become parents themselves, to pass on the legacy of good drivers to their own teens… and stay away from the tub.