Among all age groups, teens are known to have the highest vehicular crash rates, making it the leading cause of death for individuals between the ages 16 and 19 years old. They mostly occur during the first year of getting a license, and a majority are due to critical errors. So before handing the keys to a teen driver, parents need to educate themselves with the risks.
Teenagers have a tendency to underestimate hazardous situations. Since their brains are still developing, they may act on impulse, resulting in their failure to determine what is right and what is not. As young drivers fail to control their impulsive behavior, it is up to parents to provide guidance to prevent a tragedy from happening.
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Car accidents involving teenagers can stem from these common situations:
- More passengers, more problems. The presence of more teens passengers in the vehicle increases the risk of car crashes as it may cause distractions.
- Driving at night. In 2013, 51 percent of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred between 3:00 p.m. and midnight
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs. A quarter of the fatal car accidents involving teens were caused by underage drinking and driving. According to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), there are more cases of young adults aged 18 to 25 driving after taking drugs or drinking compared to adults 26 or older.
- Driving while texting/calling/checking mobile phones in general. Drivers under 20 years old make up the largest percentage of distracted driving, with as many as 32.8 percent young drivers admitting they have used their phone while driving.
- Driving without seat belts. Seat belts are referred as “safety belts” for a good reason. They are known to reduce fatality or injury in car crashes, but as of 2013 only 55 percent of teens actually wear them.
Protecting Teen Drivers
In a nationwide research by the CDC on teen drivers conducted last 2013, it was discovered that 2,163 teens in the United States aged 16–19 were killed in crashes, while 243,243 were treated in emergency departments for injuries.
Here are alarming pieces of information that every parent needs to be aware of.
- Teens are less likely to be alone in the vehicle during the crash
- These crashes involve speeding, overturn, inability to stop in assured clear distance, collision with a ditch, and hitting a tree
- Two out of every three teens killed in crashes last 2012 were males. As a result, insurance may cost more if the vehicle driver is a male.
- Males are also known to have a higher blood alcohol content (BAC) above .08 percent compared to females
- Most accidents occur during the weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) and summer months (June and July)
- For each mile driven, teen drivers have crash rates that are three times greater than drivers ages 20 and older
With the numbers presented, it is understandable that parents ask what needs to be done to keep their children safe. Understanding the risks is a good starting point, and parents should later present this to their children so they will be aware as well.
Fortunately, there are numerous resources that are being developed to keep teen drivers safe—from graduated licensing programs to parent-teen agreements that help control impulsive behavior.
There are also advancements in technology that parents can take advantage of. An example of which are software applications that restrict the use of cell phones while driving and even notify parents if the teen is driving at excessive speeds.
For more precise reports, parents can opt for GPS tracking devices like Trackimo. These can be easily hardwired on a vehicle, allowing parents to monitor the car’s every movement and quickly track it down in case of an emergency.
Whatever measures you take, make sure that the teenager is aware of them as well. That way, you can work and agree on a safety plan to prevent accidents from happening.