How to Make Sure Your Teen is a Safe Driver

Global Youth Traffic Safety Month (GYTSM) is an annual event taking place each May. The campaign’s organizers are the members and partners of the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS). GYTSM aims to raise awareness and inspire individual action to change the unfortunate statistic that motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of fatalities among teens, with summer being the deadliest of the seasons. Your teen will be waiting with outstretched hands for car keys as soon as they’ve obtained a driver’s license. Therefore, it’s essential for you to have a full understanding of the dangers your teen faces before allowing them into the driver’s seat.

What are the Statistics on Teen Driver Accidents?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) determined that the per-mile fatal accident rate is three times greater for drivers between the ages of 16-19 than for drivers at least 20 years old. Almost 3,000 teens lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents during 2016, and many more suffered serious injuries. The following discusses the main reasons for teen driving fatalities.

Teens and Distracted Driving

Approximately nine percent of teen drivers involved in fatal traffic crashes were distracted when the accident happened. Distraction in combination with an inexperienced teen driver is incredibly risky. Teens are aware that distracted driving is dangerous, but many of them believe they are expert multitaskers and admit to checking or sending texts while driving.

Teen Drivers and Drinking

Many teens consume alcoholic drinks, and driving and alcohol is a dangerous combination. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), approximately 25 percent of all teen car accidents involve underage drinking. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that at all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of an accident is higher for teens than for older drivers.

Teens and Buckling Up

Unfortunately, many teens are not buckling up. More than half of teen fatalities in 2015 involved teens that were not wearing a seatbelt. This factor plays a prominent role in bumping up the overall teen-driving accident statistics. One reason a teen may ignore buckling up is drinking – a significant statistic is that 70 percent of teen drivers who had been drinking were not wearing a seatbelt when the accident happened.

What Can I do to Make my Teen a Safe Driver?

When your teen is driving or is a passenger with another teen driver, you will probably feel a fair amount of anxiety until your teen is safely home. However, you don’t have to be helpless and just sit there keeping your fingers crossed. Here’s what you can do.

Talk, Talk, Talk

Just because your teen is taking driver’s ed at school, does not necessarily mean they are fully educated about making decisions on the road. So, don’t just rely on your teen’s teachers. Instead, talk frequently to your teen about the consequences of speeding, texting while driving, and drinking and driving. Even if your teen gets annoyed or doesn’t appear to be listening, some of what you say will get through.

Set Boundaries and Make Sure They’re Followed

  • Impose a curfew – You might have a rule that the car has to back in the driveway by 11:00 p.m. By doing so, you are keeping your teen away from being on the road when alcohol-related accidents are more likely to happen.
  • Make rules – Your teen must always buckle up (when driving and when being a passenger) and must put their phone away when driving.
  • Stipulate that you must know who your teen is riding with – The teen driver might be a complete stranger to you and you have no idea what this teen was taught by their parents, what their attitude is, or how safely they drive. Tell your teen to call you, and you will come and pick them up from a party, no questions asked.

Choose the Right Car

Don’t buy a car for your teen that’s on its last legs. What happens if it malfunctions with your inexperienced teen behind the wheel? Find a car that’s in good shape with excellent safety features. Think about installing a GPS that lets you track where the car is going and sets a top speed limit. Your teen might regard this as an invasion of privacy; however, your teen is most likely driving a car that you paid for covered by insurance that you are also paying for.

Need Help with Your Teen?

At Doorways, we don’t do driver’s ed, but we do want every teen to be safe on the road. So, if your teen has a problem that can impact their ability to drive safely and you need assistance, contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help.