Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for teenagers in our country. Sadly, 2,333 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 died in car crashes in 2015, and 221,313 teens needed medical treatment for the injuries they suffered in collisions, according to the latest teen fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is why it is critical to take a look at what young drivers are doing wrong behind the wheel in an effort to save lives and decrease the amount of teen-related crash injuries.
A recent AAA survey has identified the top three dangerous mistakes teen drivers make behind the wheel, including:
- Speeding. Speeding can lead to accidents—and speed-related crashes tend to be very severe due to the momentum of the vehicles involved. In fact, over 4,200 of the 14,000 fatal teen crashes in the past five years involved speeding, according to AAA.
- Distracted driving. Cell phone use continues to be a serious problem among teen drivers, as any level of distraction at the wheel can lead to crashes.
- Poor visual scanning. Many new drivers don’t scan the road ahead for hazards as thoroughly as they should.
What Parents Can Do to Help Their Teens Stay Safe
“Parents play a major role in keeping our roads safe. Most teens are learning important driving skills from watching their parents and they are picking up bad behaviors along with the good ones. So it’s up to today’s parents to set a good example. It may end up saving their children’s lives,” said Jennifer Ryan, director of State Relations for AAA.
It is important that adults recognize their teenage children can pick up dangerous driving habits from their parents. Talking about driving behavior is a great first step. When parents open the lines of communication and take the time to talk with their teens about driving safely and making smart decisions on the road, it can change teens’ driving behaviors and save lives. According to AAA, “Past research shows that teens with parents who impose stricter driving limits reported fewer crashes and traffic violations.”
If you are a parent of a teen driver, we encourage you to be involved in your teen’s driving. AAA recommends the following:
- Lead by example (e.g., don’t speed, and don’t text while driving).
- Create a parent-teen contract that spells out the driving rules.
- Have a regular discussion about the dangers of speeding and distracted driving.
- Drive with your teen in various conditions.
Please share this blog with your friends and family via your favorite social media site to help us encourage more parents and teen drivers to be safe on the roads in an effort to reduce auto accidents.