The sense of freedom a teen gets from being behind the wheel is undeniable. However, more teens die in car crashes than from any other cause – even more than suicide and homicide combined. It is a national crisis. Mile for mile, teenagers are three times more likely to be involved in a crash compared with other drivers. Only 54 percent of high school students reported always wearing a seat belt when riding with someone else. More than 12 young people (ages 15-19) die in teen crashes in the U.S. every single day.
Few teens and preteens ever think about the rules of the road or how to drive safely until they are just about to start driving. Here are a few ways to provide teens and preteens with the tools and support they need to make responsible choices.
- Buckle up, every time.
- Don’t drink and drive or use drugs.
- Limit the number of passengers or ban non-family passengers.
- Don’t text and drive or use any handheld electronics.
- Follow the rules of the road.
- Avoid driving at night or in hazardous conditions until experienced.
- Implement a formal agreement on safe driving rules.
- Teens lack experience and are more likely to underestimate dangerous situations or recognize hazardous situations when behind the wheel.
- Teens are more likely to speed and allow shorter headway between vehicles.
- The presence of passengers increases the likelihood of risky driving behavior.
- Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use.
- Teens are more likely to be in a fatal crash if alcohol is involved.
- Males – The motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 16-19 was almost two times that of their female counterparts.
- Teens driving with teen passengers – The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.
- Newly licensed teens – Crash risk is particularly high during the first months of licensure. Provide at least 50 hours of supervised driving experience prior to licensure.