For many teens, the day they get their drivers' licenses is the most exciting day of their lives so far. The independence that comes with being able to drive themselves to school, work, or a friend’s house is their first real taste of freedom.
However, crash statistics tell us that teen drivers are also the population at greatest risk of being in an accident. Due to inexperience and recklessness, teens have the highest rate of crashes each year of any age group.
Teens Are at Risk on the Road
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen drivers aged 16-19 are three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers over the age of 20. In 2014, approximately 2,200 teens were killed in car crashes and 221,313 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained in a car crash. And yet, many parents ignore these risks and allow their teens to take dangerous risks behind the wheel. That's why the insurance industry sponsors a Teen Driving Awareness Month every January. We encourage parents to take this month to reinforce good driving habit with their teens.
This is a fact: six teens die in a car crash every day in the U.S. So knowing this, isn’t it worth taking the time to check up on your teen’s driving habits? Experts recommend riding in the car when your teen is driving for at least one hour every week after they're licensed. This is the only way you can know for sure that your teen is driving safely and practicing defensive driving skills.
The other important step parents should take is to establish the following five non-negotiable driving rules:
- No drinking and driving. Teen drivers are definitely given this message repeatedly, but do they receive it? Does your teen know that if he—or the driver he's riding with—drinks at a party, he can call you for a ride home and not be punished for doing so? No sensible teen will plan to drink and drive, but if he fears punishment for drinking, he's more likely to drive himself home than to reach out for help. Take the opportunity this January to remind your teen that even if he breaks the law and your rules by drinking alcohol, it's more important to you that he doesn't risk his life and the lives of his friends by driving home. Give him a free pass to call you for a ride.
- Always wear a seatbelt. Observing your teen as she gets in her car to drive somewhere can immediately answer the question of whether she's wearing her seatbelt. Reinforce this rule in January by revoking driving privileges if you ever catch her not buckling up. Not only is it the law, but it's the safety measure that saves more lives than any other.
- Never text and drive. Take the time this January to research your options for blocking texting features on your teen’s phone when they're driving. The major cellular providers all offer a version of this service, and there are other apps available especially for teen drivers. You can set the rule, but why not make it impossible to break?
- Don’t speed. Speeding is a contributing factor in a quarter of all fatal accidents. Driving with your teen or following your teen when he drives can quickly tell you whether he's developed the bad habit of exceeding the speed limit. Technology is available in some cars to monitor and even control the speed of the car, but talking about the issue can be just as effective.
- Only one passenger. The risk of a crash goes up in direct relation to the number of passengers in your teen’s car. No matter what the state law is, you can set a rule for your teen that she isn't allowed more than one passenger at a time. Carpools may save gas, but they also risk the safety of your teen driver.
Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys Care About Your Teen
You know your teen better than anyone else. You may be relieved when she gets her license, as it means less driving for you, but your job isn't done when she turns 16. Continue to monitor your teen’s driving until she's 19. As car accident attorneys, we encourage you to take part in Teen Driving Awareness Month this January.