National Teen Driver Safety Week

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OCTOBER 20-26, 2019

This week (and every week), parents should have conversations with their teens about the important rules they need to follow to stay safe behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. These rules address the greatest dangers for teen drivers: alcohol, inconsistent or no seat belt use, distracted and drowsy driving, speeding, and number of passengers.

FACTS ABOUT TEEN DRIVING FATALITIES

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens (15-18 years old) in the United States, ahead of all other types of injury, disease, or violence.
  • In 2017, there were 2,247 people killed in crashes involving a teen driver, of which 755 deaths were the teen driver - a 3% decrease from 2016.
  • Parents can be the biggest influencers on teens' choices behind the wheel if they take the time to talk with their teens about some of the biggest driving risks.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO

Parents play an important role in helping ensure their teen drivers take smart steps to stay safe on the road. NHTSA gives parents tips on how to talk about safe driving behaviors with their teens, and to address the most dangerous and deadly driving behaviors for teen drivers: alcohol, lack of seat belt use, distracted driving, speeding, and driving with passengers.

  1. Impaired Driving: All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol. However, nationally in 2017, 15% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system. But alcohol isn’t the only substance that can keep your teen from driving safely: In 2017, 6.5% of adolescents 12 to 17 years old were marijuana users. Like other drugs, marijuana affects a driver’s ability to react to their surroundings. Driving is a complex task, and marijuana slows reaction time, affecting a driver’s ability to drive safely. Remind your teen that driving under the influence of any impairing substance — including illicit or prescription drugs, or over-the-counter medication — could have deadly consequences.
     
  2. Seat Belt Safety: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. Yet too many teens aren’t buckling up. In fact, there were 539 passengers killed in passenger vehicles driven by teen drivers, and more than half (60%) of those passengers who died were NOT buckled up at the time of the fatal crash. Even more troubling, when the teen driver was unbuckled, 87% of the passengers killed were also unbuckled. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, every time, no matter what — front seat and back. 
     
  3. Distracted Driving: Cell phone use while driving is more than just risky — it can be deadly, and is outlawed in 47 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Remind your teen about the dangers of texting and using a phone while driving. Distracted driving isn’t limited to cell phone use; other passengers, audio and climate controls in the vehicle, and eating or drinking while driving are all examples of dangerous distractions for teen drivers. In 2017, among teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes, 9% were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. Also remind your teen that headphones are not appropriate to wear while driving a vehicle, as they can distract a driver from hearing sirens, horns, or other important sounds.
     
  4. Speed Limits: Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially for teens. In 2017, more than one-quarter (27%) of all teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash, and males were more likely to be involved in fatal speeding-related crashes than females. Remind your teen to always drive within the speed limit.
     
  5. Passengers: Passengers in a teen’s car can lead to disastrous consequences. Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up dramatically in direct relation to the number of passengers in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers.

For more information about Georgia's teen driver programs for high school students, visit https://www.gahighwaysafety.org/campaigns/sadd-georgia/.

For more information about Georgia's programs for young adult drivers in college, visit https://www.gahighwaysafety.org/campaigns/georgia-young-adult-program/.