Getting a driver’s license is an exciting time in every teen’s life, but it can also be very dangerous. Teen drivers are 3 times more likely to be in a fatal car crash than drivers who are 20 and older. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens. According to the CDC, more than 2,000 teens lost their lives in 2013 alone due to car crashes.
Why are teens at such a high risk when driving?
Teens don’t have much experience driving alone, so it is harder for them to recognize and react to hazards.
Distractions include passengers, music, eating, phones, etc. Teenage passengers are one of the biggest distractions. The risk of crashing is much higher when other teens are in the car.
Seventy-seven percent of young adults say that they can safely text while driving., but this could not be further from the truth. If someone looks at their phone for just 5 seconds while driving at a rate of 55 mph, they will have driven the length of a football field with their eyes off the road.
What parents can do:
- Practice driving with your child as often as you can. A study from The Allstate Foundation found that 55% of teen drivers wish their parent spent more time teaching them to drive, especially in dangerous conditions.
- Lead by example. If you break the rules of the road or drive recklessly, you’re showing your teen that the rules don’t count.
- Set rules regarding nighttime driving, the number of teenage passengers allowed in the car while your child is driving, etc.
- Download apps like AT&T’s DriveMode and SafelyGo to avoid texting while driving. Visit www.itcanwait.com for more information on texting and driving safety tips.
- Have your teen sign a safe driving contract.
Parent-Teen Safe Driving Contract
Many safety groups recommend that parents and teens sign a safe driving contract. The contract states the rules of the road, the rewards for following rules, and the penalties for breaking them. There is also space for emergency contact information. You should keep one copy in your teen’s car and one copy in the house.