Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in the US.
Six teens ages 16-19 die every single day in motor vehicle crashes, and hundreds more are injured.
In 2016, 2,433 teens in the United States were killed in motor vehicle accidents, while a staggering 292,742 teens were treated for injuries suffered in car accidents. While only comprising 6.5% of the US population, teens ages 15-19 account for an estimated $13.6 billion (8.4%) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries annually.
What's causing this problem?
The overwhelming majority of serious teen driver accidents are caused by “critical errors.”
These include lack of appropriate scanning for hazards, driving too fast for the road conditions, and being distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle.
Over 70% of young people admit to texting while driving.
Research shows that texting while driving increases the risk of crashing by 23 times.
Speeding contributes to 32% of teen driver fatalities.
Among teens, males tend to speed more than females, and evidence shows that teens’ speeding behavior increases over time.
Alcohol was a factor in 20% of fatal crashes involving teenagers.
24% of young drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents had alcohol in their system. 82% of those young drivers had BACs of .08 or higher (over the legal limit for persons over age 21).
47% of teenage drivers killed in car accidents weren’t wearing a seat belt.
Teenagers have the lowest rate of seat belt use of any age group in the US.
What can we do about it?
Set a good example.
They might not want to admit it, but your teen is greatly influenced by your behavior. When it comes to driving, you are their main role model. This is why it is extremely important to practice safe driving habits yourself, especially when your teen is in the car with you. Refrain from talking on the phone or texting behind the wheel, speeding, disobeying traffic signs and other unsafe driving behaviors. Be consistent in the message you tell your teen about driving and the example you set.
Talk to your teen about the risks.
It’s important that your teen knows the statistics regarding teenage driving fatalities and the risk factors that contribute to them. Go over this list with them and address each individually. Talk to your teen specifically about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and the deadly combination that is driving under the influence.
Practice driving with your teen.
Don’t rely solely on driver’s education programs to teach your teen how to drive. Set aside time to take them on safe driving lessons. This is a great way to spend time together and to allow your teen to improve their driving skills.
Encourage your teen to take the Safe Driving Pledge.
After discussing safe driving habits with your teen, have them take the Safe Teen Driver Pledge. The pledge asks teens to promise to practice safe driving habits while encouraging their peers to do the same.