October 20-26, 2019 is National Teen Driver Safety Week. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, ahead of all other types of injury, disease, or violence. Keep your teen safe by talking to them about common dangers they face when behind the wheel.
Impaired Driving: All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol. However, nationally in 2017, of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, 15% 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.
Seat Belts: 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.
Distracted Driving: Distractions while driving are more than just risky — they can be deadly. In 2017, among teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, 9% were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group (15-18) also has the largest percentage of drivers who were distracted at the time of a crash.
Speeding: 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.
Passengers: Teen drivers transporting passengers 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.