Teens around the ages of 15 to 20 compromise just 10 percent of the population of licensed drivers. But they also contribute the biggest risk for accidents, and most of these unfortunate tragedies are caused by driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, and even texting while behind the wheel.
These problems generally center around teenage behavior. Teens are less likely to make responsible decisions and easily get distracted by other things even while driving. They resort to risky behavior without thinking about the consequences in order to impress their friends, rebel, and because of the notion that they are invincible.
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Cell phone use proves to be just as deadly as drunk-driving. According to the CDC, as many as six teens a day are killed in driving accidents. The most important thing to note here is that accidents are preventable. Parent or guardians should be well aware of the risks and should work with teens and make agreements on how they can keep themselves safe on the road.
Statistics of driving under the influence
Experts and hazard prevention groups have been trying to control the number of accidents involving teenagers in the driver’s seat. This has been such an alarming issue due to the number of accidents that pile up per year. A big 17 percent of motor vehicle accidents are because of alcohol. Even with the zero-tolerance policy implemented in all of the states, teenagers can still easily get their hands on this depressant drug.
To make things worse, they resort to binge-drinking or the activity of consuming more than five drinks an hour. While the numbers have significantly lessened compared to ten years ago, it still contributes to 45 percent of fatal car crashes that happen each weekend.
With that number, as many 2,000 teens have died each year from driving under the influence. No matter what their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is, they still pose a higher risk for accidents than those from older age groups. In 2013 alone, 17 percent of drivers aged 16 to 20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had a BAC of .08 percent or higher.
Examining the reasons behind underage drinking
Peer pressure, outside influence, and the innate need to fit in are just some of the many causes behind teenage drinking. What’s alarming is that a teen won’t just pick one drink and stop, they’ll pick up more thinking they can handle it. Binge-drinking is common in that age group, with one in six teens engaging in such activity. This does not only place the driver in danger but the passengers as well.
Teenagers’ sense of judgment is not as strong as that of adults. They fail to properly distinguish a dangerous situation and often underestimate the risks. Parents need to be aware of all of this and discuss the hazards of underage drinking with their teens while implementing strict rules to restrict them from doing so.
Other teenage problems: speeding, texting, and having passengers in the car
Speeding is a risk not recognized as much as driving under the influence is, but it still poses a greater risk. Around 33 percent of fatal teen crashes back in 2011 were because of speeding and reckless driving. Males are most likely to speed more than females, and they do not even wear seat belts, contributing to the hazard.
In 2012, 3,328 Americans have died in fatal car crashes because of texting back. Around 71 percent of these young drivers have admitted to texting and sending e-mails while behind the wheel. Texting while driving has become such a serious issue that state laws have strictly prohibited the activity. There is no other way to put how dangerous this practice is, it is basically like writing a death sentence.
More than 3,000 teenage deaths recorded each year are caused by texting and driving compared, a number apparently higher than the number of deaths caused by drunk-driving, which is only 2,000. It is not just texting that poses risk but reading a message as well. But 78 percent of teenagers have still admitted to reading a text message while driving.
To give adults and teens a better look at the risks involved with cell phone use while behind the wheel, here are some numbers to internalize:
- Talking on a phone increases the risk of an accident by 1.3 times
- Dialing on a phone poses as a risk for an accident by 2.8 times
- Merely reaching for the device places the individual at risk by 1.4 times
Experts have also indicated that the risk for accidents due to texting is higher among teens compared to adults due to a slower reaction time. This can be alarming especially since teens have admitted to sending more than a hundred messages a day.
Passengers are deadly distractions
Teens naturally want to socialize, and most of them enjoy the company of their friends. But this can be dangerous when they invite them over for a ride as they tend to pay more attention to their peers rather than on the road.
Having two or more teens in the car triples the risk of a vehicular accident. This isn’t just because they tend to interact with the people in the car, sometimes, they tend to engage in reckless driving to impress their peers. A total of 933 teen passengers have died with another teenager in the wheel back in 2011. Males, in particular, are more prone to aggressive driving in the presence of other passengers.
How do we prevent accidents from happening in the future?
Making yourself aware about these issues is the first step in addressing them. Teen fatalities are usually caused by negligence and lack of parental supervision. So as parents, do not be afraid to sit down and discuss how risky behavior can ruin their future and their life in general. Everything from cell phone usage to alcohol consumption can be controlled by being a good model to your kids. So do not hesitate to lay down the law before handing over the keys.
In addition, parents may take advantage of technology available today. There are models of vehicles that have been dubbed as teen-friendly and are equipped with safety features that regulate any chances of them displaying a risky behavior. Do avoid sports cars or small vehicles for that matter.
Another way to keep a teen safe is to monitor their whereabouts and driving activity through a GPS tracking device. Trackimo can be easily installed on the vehicle, giving parents the ability to track their teens through an online map. Not only does it have a geographical fence feature, but it also has a distress button that comes in handy during emergency situations.
Working closely with teens to ensure their safety is an effective way to address the growing number of accidents. Start an open discussion to be able to provide insight about identifying dangerous situations and how to not give in to peer pressure. Remember, it only takes a few seconds of bad decision to create a lifetime of grief.
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