Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States? In fact, 5,000 teens are killed each year in automobile accidents. Individuals between the ages of 16 and 19 years old are involved in four times as many fatal crashes as adult drivers ages 25 to 69.
Right now, we are in the middle of the seventh annual National Teen Driver Safety Week, which is October 20-26, 2013. NTDSW is designated by Congress as a time to raise awareness of teen driver safety topics and to encourage safe behavior. The NTDSW website has many resources to help educate teens, parents, and the general public on important topics related to teen driving safety.
Seventy-five percent of serious teen driver crashes are due to critical errors. The three most common errors, which cause over half of the serious crashes, include a lack of scanning for hazards, driving too fast for road conditions, and being distracted. All drivers should be aware of the dangers of distracted driving, but distractions such as passengers or cell phones are especially hazardous for teens. Other high-risk behaviors targeted by NTDSW are speeding, riding with an impaired driver, and not wearing a seat belt.
With this year’s theme, “It Takes Two,” parents are encouraged to be active by discussing driving safety with teens, setting rules, and modeling appropriate behavior. Research has indicated that a teen’s crash risk can be cut in half through parent involvement. Parents are also encouraged to make the most of the graduated drivers license programs and actively help their teens become skilled drivers; AAA has reported that parents may not be teaching the right skills, such as adjusting speed for road conditions. Passengers are urged to wear seatbelts and to refrain from any behaviors that distract the driver or encourage the driver to increase risky behavior.
We encourage you to take the time to explore the website dedicated to National Teen Driver Safety Week and to utilize some of the resources available to help your teen be a better driver. Also, remember that your teen learns more from observing, so strive to be a skilled and safe driver yourself.