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Facts and Tips for Parents to Keep Teen Drivers Safe

Facts and Tips for Parents to Keep Teen Drivers Safe

Andrew McMennamy

Being behind the wheel is a big responsibility. But for teens, it’s more than that. It's the feeling of freedom and independence it provides that makes them want to finally grab the keys and hop in the car. They have no idea driving is the most dangerous thing available.

The inexperience of teen drivers, as well as their lack of knowledge of traffic rules and how to be responsible behind the wheel, have resulted in many undesirable outcomes. One of these is the high number of fatal vehicular accidents. Recent statistics show that car crashes are the number one reason for the deaths of teens between the ages of 15 and 20.

This statistic should alarm you enough. But this isn’t the only thing to know about teen driving. Here are other facts and statistics on teen driving that every parent should know.

​​Key Takeaways

  • Teen driving is exciting but dangerous due to inexperience and lack of knowledge.
  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens aged 15-20.
  • Parents can help prevent accidents by enrolling teens in driving schools, setting a good example, enforcing safety measures, and using GPS trackers.

Teen Driving: Facts and Statistics

Estimates are that half of teen drivers will get involved in car crashes before graduating from high school. Here are the figures:

Fatalities
  • In 2017, 2,526 teens were killed in car crashes in the United States.
  • In 2018, 2,476 teens aged 13-19 died in car accidents.
  • About 2 out of every 3 teens killed in car crashes were boys.
  • The fatal crash rate per mile driven for teens (16-19) is three times higher than for drivers aged 20 and older.
Crashes
  • 16-year-olds have the highest crash rates.
  • 91% of crashes involving teens are by drivers aged 15-20 without driver education.
  • In 2018, 20% of 11th graders had been in a crash as a driver.
  • 25% of 9th graders had been in a crash as a passenger with a teen driver.
  • 9% of teen crashes involved distracted driving.
  • Having one passenger doubles the risk of a crash; having two or more passengers increases the risk five times.
  • 1 in 4 crash fatalities involves someone aged 16-24.
Distractions
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018 alone, distracted driving has claimed 2,841 lives. Among those killed, 1,730 were drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 bicyclists.
  • In 2020, The Zebra surveyed 2,000 Americans and found that 56.7% of them admitted to eating or drinking while driving.
  • The same survey found that texting, eating, and drinking are not the only things that distract them, so do answering emails, video chatting, and taking photos and videos.
  • 56% of teens say they talk on the phone while driving.
  • 13% of teens admit to texting while driving.
  • 12% of distracted drivers involved in accidents that resulted in death were 15- to 19-year-old teen drivers.
  • Talking on the phone while driving increases the likelihood of an accident by half.
  • The majority of distracted drivers are drivers below the age of 20.
  • 34% of teens aged 16 to 17 admit to sending and responding to text messages while driving.
Seat belt use
According to NHTSA, teens buckle up less likely than adults do. This leads to even more accidents involving teen drivers.
  • In 2009, 56% of teens aged 16 to 20 who got involved in car crashes were unbuckled.
  • According to the CDC, teens, more than any age group, have the lowest rate of seat belt use.
  • In 2013, over half of teens ages 15 to 19 who were killed in motor vehicle accidents weren’t wearing a seat belt.
  • In 2017, 5.9% of teen passengers admitted to never or rarely wearing a seat belt as passengers.
  • Teens with parents who monitor their driving are twice as likely to wear seat belts than those whose parents are less involved.
Alcohol use
  • Any amount of alcohol in their bloodstream increases the risk of crashes among teens of older adults.
  • Drinking when you are under the age of 21 is illegal in the United States, and so is drinking while driving among teens. But despite this under-21 law on alcohol use, 15% of drivers aged 16-20 who were involved in a car accident had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
  • 20% of male drivers aged 15 to 20 who were involved in fatal car crashes admitted to drinking while driving. 

Tips for Parents to Prevent Teen Car Accidents

Now that we know the facts, let’s talk about how parents can help their kids avoid accidents. Here are some tips keep teen safe from car crashes:

Tips for Parents to Keep Teen Driver Safe

Leading a Good Example

A study found that many parents don’t follow safe driving habits. For example, 91% talk on the phone while driving, and 59% text. Some even drive without seat belts or under the influence. Don’t text or call while driving, always wear your seat belt, and never drive drunk.

Be a good role model. Teens learn by watching their parents. Model safe driving behaviours, such as not using your phone while driving and adhering to speed limits. Your actions speak louder than words. Show your teen the right way to drive.

Setting Rules and Expectations

Establishing clear driving rules is crucial. Make sure your teen understands the importance of wearing seat belts at all times. Set strict rules against using phones while driving and always obeying speed limits. These rules should be non-negotiable.

Enroll Them in a Professional Driving School

Practice makes perfect. Parents might be great teachers, but supervised driving practice helps teens gain experience in different driving conditions, such as at night, in the rain, and on highways. Driving schools are even better for teaching kids to enhance their skills and knowledge about driving. These schools don’t just teach traffic rules but also explain the risks of driving. 

Restrictions on Night Driving and Passenger Count

Most crashes happen at night. Teens drive only 15% of their miles after dark, but 40% of deadly crashes happen then. Make sure your teen is home before 9:00 p.m. In some places, like Michigan, it’s illegal for teens to drive between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. unless for work or with a guardian.

Also, limit the number of passengers. More passengers mean a higher risk of a crash. One passenger increases crash risk by 48%. With two passengers, the risk goes up by 258%, and with three or more, it jumps to 307%.

Make Seat Belt Use Mandatory

Always remind your teen to wear a seat belt. More than half of teens in car crashes weren’t wearing seat belts. Seat belts are the best way to prevent injuries in a crash. They can reduce the risk of injury.

Do Not Let Them Drive Under the Influence of Alcohol

Never let your teen drive after drinking alcohol. Even a small amount can be dangerous. Make sure they understand the risks and dangers of drunk driving. Talk to them about why it’s so important to stay sober behind the wheel.

Get Them a Safe Vehicle

If you’re buying a car for your teen, choose one with high safety ratings. Avoid small cars, trucks, SUVs, and sporty cars. These can be more dangerous for teens. Check safety ratings and consumer reports before buying.

Vehicle Safety

Choosing a safe vehicle for your teen is vital. Look for cars with high safety ratings and modern safety features. Regular maintenance checks, including brakes and tyres, are essential to ensure the vehicle is in good condition.

Managing Distractions

Distractions are a major cause of teen driving accidents. Teach your teen to focus solely on driving. Limit the number of passengers in the car, as having friends in the vehicle can be distracting. Consider using apps or devices that restrict phone use while driving.

Understanding the Law

Make sure your teen is familiar with local driving laws and understands the consequences of traffic violations and accidents. Knowing the rules helps them drive responsibly.

Invest in a GPS Tracker

Investing in a GPS tracker for your teen's car can significantly enhance their driving safety and give you peace of mind. These small, lightweight devices allow you to monitor your teen's location in real-time, ensuring they are where they should be.

GPS trackers come equipped with an SOS button, which your teen can press in case of an emergency, providing an extra layer of security. Additionally, GPS Trackers can track driving behaviours, engine start-up and shut-down times, such as speed, sudden stops, and miles driven, helping you identify and address any risky habits early on.

GPS trackers also allow you to set up geofences, which are virtual boundaries. If your teen's car crosses these boundaries, you will receive an immediate alert. This feature is particularly useful for keeping your teen within safe areas and preventing them from venturing into dangerous or restricted zones. Overall, a GPS tracker is a valuable tool that promotes responsible driving and enhances the safety of your teen on the road.

Addressing Common Challenges

Here, there is two most common challenges while teens driving:

Dealing with Peer Pressure
Peer pressure can influence teens to take risks. Encourage your teen to make safe choices, even when their friends might be pressuring them to do otherwise. Remind them that it's okay to say no.

Handling Emergencies
Prepare your teen for emergencies. Teach them what to do if the car breaks down or if they're involved in an accident. Having a plan can help them stay calm and act responsibly in stressful situations.

Resources for Parents

There are many resources available to help you and your teen driver. Websites like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the CDC provide valuable information on teen driving safety. Apps like Life360 can help monitor your teen’s driving habits and promote safe driving.

Conclusion

Teen driving can be both exciting and dangerous. Keeping teen drivers safe involves a combination of education, role modelling, and practical safety measures. By understanding the risks and statistics associated with teen driving, parents can take proactive steps to mitigate dangers. Enrolling teens in professional driving schools, setting clear rules, leading by example, and leveraging technology like GPS trackers are essential strategies. Additionally, selecting safe vehicles, managing distractions, and preparing teens for emergencies can further ensure their safety. Ultimately, a collaborative effort between parents and teens, supported by available resources, can significantly reduce the risks of driving and save lives.

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Andrew McMennamy
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