National Teen Driver Safety Week runs from October 21 to October 27 this year. It’s a great opportunity for parents to talk to their teens about staying safe on the road.
Why Is Teen Driver Safety Week Important?
Teens already have to get hands-on practice and pass tests to get a driver’s license. By the time they’re allowed to drive on their own, they’ve already learned a lot about driving safety – but it’s not enough.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens between the ages of 15 and 18. In 2015, 1,972 teen drivers were involved in fatal crashes, and 99,000 teen drivers were injured.
Teen driver safety is too important to cover once and then forget about it. Teens need to a refresher, and National Teen Driver Safety Week is the perfect time to provide a reminder.
How Can Parents Help?
Parents should take an active role in making sure their teens are practicing safe habits on the road. Talk to your teens about common dangers and set clear expectations.
- Are your teens always on their phone? Texting behind the wheel can be a fatal mistake. Make sure your teens know not to text while driving or to ride as a passenger if the driver texts.
- Do your teens always buckle up? In 2013, more than half of teens who died in car crashes were not using seat belts. Teach your teens that seat belts save lives, and set a good example by always using yours.
- Are your teens drinking and driving or riding with someone who is? Even though people under age 21 are not allowed to drink alcohol, the CDC reports that 15 percent of drivers aged 15 to 20 involved in fatal crashes in 2016 had a BAC of .08 percent or higher. Talk to your teen about the dangers of drunk driving, including what to do if they find themselves in need of a sober ride.
- Do your teens follow the rules of the road? According to the CDC, teen drivers are more likely to speed and drive too closely to other cars. Teach them to be safe drivers.
What Resources Are Available?
There are many resources available to help parents keep their teen drivers safe.
- Become familiar with your state’s graduated license program. Most states have restrictions on texting, nighttime driving and passengers for new teen drivers. The Governors Highway Safety Association provides a state-by-state breakdown.
- See if your state offers school visits, classes and other activities. In Tennessee, the Reduce TN Crashes program works with schools to educate teens and provide safe driving activities. The Teens in the Driver Seat program, an initiative from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Youth Transportation Safety Program, works with schools in Texas, Georgia, California, Idaho, Nebraska and Colorado. The organization also provides resources including videos, quizzes and parent information.
- Use the Countdown2Drive program to create an agreement between you and your teen driver.
- Take the National Safety Council’s Distracted Driving Pledge with your teen.