National Teen Driver Safety Week
October 5, 2020 | Category: News
Teens are often well aware that they are a vulnerable population on the road, but car accidents remain the leading cause of death in teenagers aged 15 – 18. In addition to being relatively inexperienced drivers, teens are more likely to get into an accident because of behaviors like alcohol consumption, inconsistent seatbelt use, and distracted and drowsy driving. These factors are often compounded when several teens are in a car together. During National Teen Driver Safety Week October 18- 24, take the opportunity to evaluate the safety of teen drivers you may know and consider having a conversation with them about safe driving practices.
Historically, schools and independent drivers’ education courses have often relied on scaring teenagers into safe practices, but this strategy is not ideal. High school students are able to understand the gravity of safe driving, and often benefit from sincere concern rather than scare tactics. Parents and teachers report success from having serious discussions with their teens about what safe driving looks like and which driving practices are unsafe.
The United States Department of Transportation recommends that parents lay ground rules this week for teens that have just learned to drive or are riding with newly-licensed friends. They suggest that parents remind new drivers that driving is a privilege and suggest that privileges be revoked if the teen routinely demonstrates unsafe behaviors. The US Department of Transportation also recommends taking a moment to acknowledge and correct some misconceptions that both teens and parents may have:
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol:
Many teens are aware of the risks of driving under the influence of alcohol, but they may feel more comfortable driving after using marijuana or other drugs. It is important for young drivers to understand that any substance that impairs your judgement and slows your reaction time makes you an unfit driver. Teens should be wary of accepting rides from drivers in an environment with drugs or alcohol even if they do not appear visibly impaired.
Phones are Only One Type of Distracted Driving:
Another growing cause for concern is distracted driving. Parents often urge their teenage children to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while they are driving, but many teens continue to use their phones while on the road. Any phone use, however brief, momentarily diverts your attention from the road. It may be helpful to recommend that the driver turns off notifications on their phone while driving, so they aren’t unnecessarily tempted to check it.
Additionally, while phones are a significant distraction on the road, that certainly isn’t the only possible distraction. Many other distractions like loud music, rowdy passengers, or pets in the vehicle may also be particularly dangerous for young, inexperienced drivers. Teen drivers are also more likely to exhibit reckless behavior when others are in the car, so it may be wise to set boundaries on the number of passengers that your teen can pick up.
Finally, remember that you are an example for your teenager. The way you conduct yourself on the road is an example for your teen, so even if you feel confident in your driving abilities, this week is a great opportunity to reassess some of your driving habits. There’s no shame in making a change for safety! If you have any additional safe driving tips, we would love to hear them! Reply to our newsletter, or tag us on social media, so we can read your ideas. Check out this short Know the 5 To Drive video, and show it to your teen driver.