This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week, and we hope you’ll take some time with your teen before the weekend is out to talk to any young drivers (or drivers-to-be) about how to stay safe on our Connecticut roads.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 14-18 year olds in the U.S. In fact, almost half of the teen drivers involved in a crash die. Yet, a recent survey show that only 25% of parents have had a serious talk with their kids about the key components of driving. Please, Talk to Your Teen About the “5 to Drive” from NHTSA.org:
The 5 to Drive are five important rules that teen drivers need to follow to stay safe behind the wheel. These rules address the worst dangers for teen drivers: alcohol, texting, seat belts, speeding, and extra passengers.
THE PROBLEM—TOO MANY TEENS ARE DYING
Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of 14- to 18-year-olds in the United States.In 2012, there were 2,055 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, and 859 (42%) of those teen drivers were killed in the crashes. You are the biggest influence on your teen’s safety behind the wheel, but according to a recent survey, only 25 percent of parents take the time to talk with their kids about the dangers of driving, including:
- Alcohol: Teen drivers are at a greater risk of death in alcohol-related crashes compared to drivers in all other age groups, even though they’re too young to legally buy or possess alcohol. Nationally in 2012, 28 percent of the young drivers (15 to 20 years old) who were killed in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher.
- Seat belts: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. Whether it’s immaturity or a false perception that they’re invincible—teens aren’t buckling up. In 2012, of all the young (15- to 20-year-old) passenger vehicle drivers killed in crashes, more than half (55%) of those killed were unbuckled.
- Texting: Texting or dialing while driving is more than just risky—it’s deadly. In 2012, among drivers 15 to 19 years old who were distracted in fatal crashes, nearly 1 in 5 were distracted by phones. This age group had the highest percentage of drivers distracted by phone use.
- Speeding: In 2012, speeding was a factor in almost half (48%) of the crashes that killed 15- to 20-year-old drivers.
- Passengers: Teens may be very social, but the car isn’t the place to socialize. Extra passengers for a teen driver can lead to disastrous results. In fact, according to a recent survey by the Allstate Foundation, half of all teen drivers even admit that they are safer drivers without their friends as passengers.
THE SOLUTION—SPEAK UP AND TALK TO YOUR TEEN OFTEN
You’ve guided your teen this far. Driving is a new chapter, a step toward independence for many teens. But your job’s not done. Surveys show that teens whose parents impose driving restrictions typically engage in less risky driving and are involved in fewer crashes. They can’t listen if you don’t talk.
October 19-25, join parents across the country in the “5 to Drive” campaign.
Get the facts about teen driving and share some of the grim statistics with your teen.
Know Connecticut’s graduated driver licensing (GDL) restrictions and enforce them.
Remind your teen that driving is a privilege to be taken seriously.
Set the Rules Before They Hit the Road.
1 No Drinking and Driving.
Set a good example by not driving after drinking. Remind your teen that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and driving should never mix.
2 Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Front Seat and Back.
Lead by example. If you wear your seat belt every time, your teen is more likely to follow suit. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, no matter how far.
3 Put It Down. One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.
Remind your teen about the dangers of texting or dialing while driving, and that the phone is off-limits when they are on the road. It’s equally important to model safe driving habits for your teen—you shouldn’t text and drive either.
4 Stop Speeding Before It Stops You.
Drive the speed limit and require your teen to do the same. Explain that every time your speed doubles, your stopping distance quadruples.
5 No More Than One Passenger at Any Time.
Don’t allow your teen to drive with more than one passenger at a time. Check your State’s GDL law, though; it may prohibit any passengers.
PARENTS REMEMBER—KEEP TALKING ABOUT THE “5 TO DRIVE”
Start your conversation during Teen Driver Safety Week, but continue the conversation every day.
Even if it seems like they’re tuning you out, keep telling them. These powerful messages will get through.
Get creative! Talking is only one way to discuss safe driving. You could write your teen a letter, leave notes in the car, or use social media to get your message across.
Get it in writing. Create a parent-teen driving contract that outlines the rules and consequences for your teen driver. Hang the signed contract in a visible place.
For more information about National Teen Driver Safety Week and the “5 to Drive” campaign, please visit www.safercar.gov/parents.