Teens Behind the Wheel
Parents of a teenager who is now at the age in which he or she can legally drive probably remember their first time behind the wheel. It is that recollection, along with the countless statistics regarding teen drivers, which floods most parents with anxiety when they hand over the keys to their teens. When it comes to driving, most teens are relatively inexperienced, which explains why teenage drivers account for more auto accidents than any other age group. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. In 2015, over 2,300 teens in the U.S. ages 16–19 were killed, and over 221,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in 2014.
Safe Driving Tips for Teen Drivers
The risk of a collision is almost always present when driving, but luckily there are strategies and tips that can reduce the likelihood of your teen being involved in a motor vehicle crash. Convey these safe driving tips to your teen driver and even consider abiding by some of these tips yourself in order to set an example for your teenager.
- Do not drink and drive. Even though this one is considered by most to be a given, it is one that is definitely worth repeating to your teen. Teenage drinking and driving is highly dangerous.
- Refrain from cell phone use while driving. That includes texting, talking on the phone (even if it is hands-free), using social media (including Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat), checking your email, etc.
- Drive defensively. While your teen may be a safe driver, not everyone else on the road is. It is imperative to stress that he or she needs to be cognizant of everyone and everything around them while driving, make sure there is adequate space between their vehicle and the vehicles around them, and approach every situation with a worst-case-scenario mindset.
- Always wear your seat belt. In many teen driver accidents, a teen dies from being thrown from their vehicle due to not wearing a seat belt, whereas they would have likely survived the impact had they worn their seat belt.
- Drive in accordance with the speed limit. When someone is speeding, they tend to disrupt the flow of traffic, diminish necessary reaction time, and make it is easy for them to misgauge a situation, e.g. when they can safely change lanes. Also, sheer speeding increases the likelihood of collisions occurring and the severity of the injuries one may sustain. Further, speed should be reduced during inclement weather such as ice, snow, sleet, and rain.
- Reduce distractions. Anything that takes one’s attention away from driving, such as eating and changing the radio station, increases the odds of that person being involved in a wreck; this is especially true when it comes to teen drivers.
- Use your headlights. Most teen drivers are aware to use their headlights at night, but it is just as important to make sure one is visible in the early hours of the morning and in the evening as the sun is setting.
- Drive alone. As a teen driver, it is tempting to have your friends pile into your vehicle and drive around town together. However, studies show that just one teen passenger in your teen’s car can double the likelihood of a car accident, and additional teen passengers ramp up the risk even more.
Life is unpredictable, and even the safest of drivers can fall victim to a drunk driver or a freak accident. Even though safety is not 100% guaranteed when driving a motor vehicle, it is important to equip a teen driver with the knowledge necessary to keep them safe as they venture out on the open road. These safety tips can be the difference between your teen driver returning home safe and getting that dreaded phone call from the police.