You wouldn’t have believed it if you hadn’t seen it with your own eyes: a red car blew through a yellow light, made a last-second turn off Oak Trafficway, and came to a screeching halt in the parking lot where you were meeting your family for dinner. When the driver got out of the car, you yelled at him, and he shrugged it off, saying that he had “plenty of time” to make the turn. You were fuming, but walked into the restaurant with him anyway—after all, he’s still your son.
State and Federal Programs Help Teen Drivers Think Critically About Safety
Your child’s attitude is a major component of the trouble with teen drivers as a whole: it’s not that they aren’t good drivers—they don’t recognize the risks they take. In a recent study of best and worst states for teen driver crashes, Missouri was ranked ninth-worst in the nation. Despite making up only 14 percent of the driving population, teenagers account for up to 30 percent of the costs of all car crashes—and of course, car crashes have been the leading cause of death for 15 to 20-year-olds for over a decade.
In order to curb both the rising crash rates and fatal injuries involving teen drivers, many state and federal programs have been launched to stop illegal behavior and educate drivers on the consequences of their actions. Here are just a few events that could spur your teenager to change his ways:
- Driving Skills for Life. A short summertime drive can be a worthwhile experience for you and your teen, especially if you attend the “Ride and Drive” event at the Fort Riley Army Base. This award-wining teen driving program includes in-vehicle coaching to help teens recognize and respond to driving issues, learning stations on impaired driving and seat belt use, and other interactive sessions throughout the day-long event.
- Click It or Ticket. Although using a seat belt is the single most effective way to reduce crash deaths, many teenagers still stubbornly neglect to buckle up for each trip. The national seat belt use rate is estimated to be just 87 percent. In an effort to curb fatalities caused by unbuckled driving, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Click It or Ticket campaign has taken over radio and television ads, and extra patrolmen have been budgeted to pull law-breaking drivers over this summer.
- Drive by Example. You may have seen a distracted driving PSA featuring a distracted parent being chastised by his teenager. This campaign has been incredibly effective not only for teenagers, who are quick to point out the double standard of parents who don’t follow their own advice, but also for parents. If you talk on the phone, text, eat, or don’t buckle your seat belt when you drive, your child is more likely to do what you do, rather than what you say.
Know of a great summer safety course in the Kansas City area? Drop us a line on Facebook to let us know when and where!