National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 17-23 this year and offers a great reminder for both teens and parents alike that driving comes with exciting new possibilities and added new responsibilities for new drivers. Data has consistently shown that teens drive less than older drivers but are disproportionately involved in crashes and crash deaths. The following factors can greatly impact your teen driver’s risk of being involved in an accident.
The longer you drive, the more you come to recognize patterns of danger or signs another driver on the road may do something that could lead to an accident. This insight allows you added time to react but teen drivers lack experience and often miss cues of dangerous situations. They are also more likely to make critical errors behind the wheel because of that inexperience. Parents can help lessen the risk by having their teen drive with them in a variety of different situations and traffic conditions.
Driving with Teen Passengers
Recent studies over the past decade have revealed that teens having multiple teenage passengers in the vehicle with them can increase the risk of them being involved in an accident. That risk increases by 44% when a single teenage passenger is in the vehicle with a young driver and the risk doubles when they bring two passengers along and quadruples if they have three or more. Many states have limitations in place on how many teens can ride along with new drivers in an attempt to reduce that risk with Graduated License programs.
Nighttime driving presents challenges for all drivers but it is particularly dangerous for young drivers. In 2019, 40% of teen deaths ages 13-19 from motor vehicle crashes occurred between the hours of 9 pm and 6 am, and 52% occurred on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Limiting the amount of time your teen drives at night can help lower that risk.
Not Wearing a Seatbelt
When compared with other age groups, young adults and teens had the lowest rate of seatbelt usage and it factors into the fatality rate their group experiences. In 2019, almost half of teen drivers and passengers ages 16–19 who died in car crashes were unrestrained at the time of the crash.
Distracted driving is an increasingly common issue that’s resulting in more fatalities in general on the road but coupled with teen drivers’ inexperience, they face a higher risk than other groups. Research has found that dialing a phone number while driving increases your teen’s risk of crashing by six times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times. Parents should remind their teens often that driving requires their full attention and set a good example to their children by never driving distracted themselves.
Drowsy driving is dangerous because it affects a driver’s alertness, judgment, reaction time and decision-making abilities. People who are at a higher risk for a crash caused by drowsy driving include drivers 17-23 years old, those who sleep less than six hours a night, drivers who travel on rural roads or those who drive between midnight and 6 a.m. Parents can help make sure their teen is getting enough sleep and limit the times they are driving late at night.
Speeding is one of the most common forms of reckless driving and is a critical issue for teen drivers. Studies have shown that as a teen gains confidence behind the wheel, their speeding behavior increases. This newfound confidence may also lead to them tailgating other vehicles and taking other risky behavior like weaving in and out of traffic or ignoring stop lights and signs. Teens who are monitored closely are far less likely to engage in reckless driving. Parents should also set a good example of behavior to model after while they are behind the wheel since kids learn most from watching them.
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