Is it that time of the year again? That time when teenagers are all excited and restless about upcoming graduation, prom night, going to an event, hanging out with friends, driving into the city, and lots of other fun? This means that it is also that time of year when parents all over worry and stress, staying up till late in the night waiting for their teenage drivers to get home safely.
Unfortunately, parent worry and angst comes with good reason. According to the National Safety Council, the number one cause of teenage deaths is car accidents. This makes it critical for parents to ensure that their teenagers follow certain tips to keep them safe when they are behind the wheel.
5 Ways to Prevent Car Accidents Caused by Teenagers
The sunny news is that a teen’s risk of a car accident can be reduced very significantly by a combination of practice, a slow and gradual exposure to driving as well as easing gradually into higher-risk driving situations, such as driving with other teens in the vehicle or night-time driving.
You should also not forget to include strict parental supervision. Here is a list provided by the National Safety Council that parents can use to discuss driver safety with their teenage children.
- Set Restrictions for Night Driving: Teenagers only drive 15% of their miles after dark, but you should also keep in mind that 40% of fatal car accidents happen during this time period. It is advisable not to allow night-time driving after 10 pm; earlier than 10 pm would be even better. In some states like Michigan, it is illegal for teenagers to drive between 10 pm and 5 am. The only exception is if they are driving to and from work, or accompanied by a guardian, parent, or licensed adult over the age of 21.
- Set Restriction for Passengers: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, when it comes to teenagers, one passenger can have a 48% crash risk. That risk grows significantly as the number of passengers increases; 258% more with two passengers and 307% more with three or more passengers. The National Safety Council recommends that passengers under 18 should not be allowed in a car during the first year of driving of a teen. This seems pretty extreme but some people believe in these types of rigorous laws.
- Do Not Allow Cell Phone Use While Driving: According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 23% of all annual car accidents involve the use of cell phones. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that teenagers are more likely to use cellphones when they are driving than any other age group. More than 50% of teens ages 16 to 17 admit that they talk on a cell phone while driving. Parents should stress that this is dangerous behavior and set a good example as well.
- Do not Allow Alcohol: This is an obvious one. No matter how old, alcohol should be prohibited. The fact is that drinking and driving remains to be a major problem among teens. The NHTSA reports that nearly one-third of drivers aged between 15 and 20 who were killed in car crashes had been consuming alcohol. In states like Michigan, there is a zero tolerance law for drinking underage drivers. This means that teen drivers are not legally allowed to have any measurable alcohol in their system. Make sure that your teenager/s know that drinking and driving is not only ridiculous and sloppy behavior but that it can lead to a terrible accident.
- Make it Mandatory to Wear Seat Belts: You have probably heard this one – it is the oldest rule in the book. When it comes to safety devices in cars, safety belts are the most effective. Everyone inside a car should buckle up their seat belts at all times. Data from the NHTSA shows that the risk of crash injuries can be reduced by about 50% when drivers and passengers make sure that they wear their seat belts. It is amazing people still do not wear their seat belt but still some do not.
- Write Down the Rules of the Road: It may help in clarifying rules, conditions, and expectations for your teen to earn increased driving privileges by writing down the “Rules of the Road.” This may help ensure that teens abide by the established limits, and apart from this, encourage them to develop and practice better and safer driving habits. This can prevent them from getting into a car accident and help save their lives and others!
Although teen crash risk is high, it is possible to prevent them or at least mitigate the chances of these types of crashes from occurring. There are many things you can do to make sure that your teenager does not get into an accident – one of them is making sure that they receive proper driving lessons before being handed over the keys to the car.
If your teen avoids risky behavior while behind the wheel, they can be safer on the road and avoid getting into accidents, hopefully! Teenagers should remember that safe driving practices will not only save their lives, but the lives of other drivers and pedestrians as well.