Despite what teenagers may believe, they are not the best drivers. Tragically, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. In many cases, the teenagers who died were behind the wheel.
Since it was established by Congress in 2007, National Teen Driver Safety Week has been observed in the third week of October. This year it runs from October 19 to 26. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which sponsors the program, is emphasizing the importance of parents in taking a proactive role to keep their teens safe.
During last year’s campaign, the NHTSA introduced the “5 to drive” program–five key rules for teens to be safe drivers. The rules address the major causes of accidents for young drivers.
1. Don’t drink and drive
Although all states have a drinking age of 21, alcohol is a major factor in accidents with teen drivers. Georgia has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving: a first offense results in a 12-month license suspension.
2. Wear a seatbelt
More than 50% of the teenagers killed behind the wheel weren’t wearing a seatbelt. Buckling up can reduce death and serious injuries from crashes by about half.
3. Don’t text and drive
Now that almost every teenager has his or her own cell phone, distracted driving has become a major issue. More than 40% of teens have admitted to texting or e-mailing while driving. The actual number is likely much higher.
4. Obey speed limits
Speeding is a factor in more than half of fatal crashes caused by teen drivers. Male teens are more likely than females to exceed the speed limit.
5. Drive with no more than one passenger at a time
Having similar-aged passengers in the car adds to the risk of crashes for teen drivers. Each additional passenger under 21 significantly increases the risk of driver distraction and a greater chance of traffic fatalities.
For more information on National Teen Driver Safety Week, check out the website here.
In part two of this post, we’ll discuss graduated driver licensing laws for teens. Be sure to check back next week!