This week is recognized as National Teen Driver Safety Week, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This week is a reminder to begin and/or and continue safe driving conversations with your teen driver.
The awareness week serves as a time to remind parents about the importance of having conversations with their teens about the dangers they face. It is also a week to remind parents about how important it is that they model safe driving behaviors.
In 2018, there were 2,121 people killed in crashes involving a teen passenger vehicle driver (15-18 years old), of which 719 deaths were the teen driver. Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen behind the wheel (i.e. other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, etc.).
In fact, in 2018, there were an estimated 88,000 teen drivers injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, and an estimated 256,000 people injured in crashes involving a teen driver, accounting for almost 10% of all those injured that year.
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens 15 to 18 years old in the United States. Recent AAA research has found that for every mile driven, new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash compared to adults. This is largely due to their inexperience, and their likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors. According to the new AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, about 72 percent of teen drivers aged 16-18 admitted to having engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors in the past 30 days:
• Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (47 percent);
• Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (40 percent);
• Texting (35 percent);
• Red-light running (32 percent);
• Aggressive driving (31 percent);
• Drowsy driving (25 percent); and
• Driving without a seatbelt (17 percent).
The single most important step you can take to protect the life of your teen is to be actively involved in the learning-to-drive experience. Understanding the risks and knowing the facts will prepare both you and your teen for the road ahead. Even if it seems like they’re tuning you out, keep reinforcing these rules. They’re listening — your constant reminders about these powerful messages will get through.
AAA’S TIPS FOR PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT
Evaluate your teen’s readiness - Talk with your teen about personal responsibility, the ability to follow rules and any other concerns before beginning the learning-to-drive process.
Set a good example- Your teen has been watching you drive for years, but you might want to step up your driving game now. Always wear your seat belt, obey traffic laws, never talk or text on the phone while driving and don’t speed.
Varying conditions - Expose your teen to various weather, lighting and traffic conditions, as well as road types. By teaching under low-risk conditions and gradually introducing new conditions, you help your teen gain needed experience through practice driving.
Sign an agreement - Create a parent-teen agreement that puts expectations and consequences in writing. Hang the signed contract in a visible place as a constant reminder about the rules of the road.
Set limits & Understand the GDL Laws - Setting boundaries will clarify your expectations and can inform your teen’s decisions down the line. Know the teen driver laws for your state and remind you teen and their friends about the laws.
Stay involved - Be active in the learning-to-drive process. Maintain an ongoing dialogue about your teen’s driving, appropriately restrict driving privileges and conduct plenty of supervised practice driving.
Get Creative – leave a note in their car, send them a Snapchat or a text message (when you know they are not driving)
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 60 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services. Operating 18 offices throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, AAA Northern New England is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying corporation and serves as an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA Northern New England can be visited on the Internet at aaa.com