Ahead of all other types of injuries, diseases or violence, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. Drivers who are between the ages of 15 and 19 were involved in 15% of all traffic crashes in Ohio from 2014 to 2016. The action of a teen driver contributed to more than 72% of these crashes. These crashes resulted in 41,511 injuries and 286 fatalities.
Implement these rules with your teen driver before handing over the keys to the family car. With these “5 to Drive” guidelines, you can help protect your teen from the following hazards:
Teens' inexperience behind the wheel makes them more susceptible to distracted driving. Texting or talking on the phone takes your teen's focus off of the road, and lessens their ability to react to a roadway incident. Taking your eyes off of the road for five seconds could cost a life. Dialing a phone number while driving increases your teen's risk of crashing by six times. Texting while driving increases the risk of crashing by 23 times. Remind your teen that driving is a skill that requires full attention. Texts and phone calls can wait.
The likelihood of teens engaging in risky behaviors on the road increases by three times when traveling with multiple people, compared to when driving alone. The risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct correlation to the number of teenagers in the car. Familiarize yourself with your State's graduated driver licensing (GDL) law, and enforce its guidelines for your teen.
Speeding is a serious safety concern for teenage drivers. It was a factor in 29% percent of the deadly crashes that involved teens behind the wheel in 2015. A study by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that teens were involved in 19,447 speeding-related crashes from 2000-2011. Be a good role model and don’t speed. Be consistent between your own driving behaviors and the message you tell your teen.
All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol, but they are still at risk. Nationally in 2015, almost one out of five teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. Make the consequences clear. Remind your teens that they face adult consequences for driving after using alcohol or drugs. Make sure your teens know that if they violate underage drinking laws, they face a trip to jail, the loss of their driver licenses, and dozens of other expenses including attorney fees, court costs, insurance hikes and other fines. Your teen will also stand to lose academic eligibility, college acceptance, and scholarship awards. Also, remind your teen that it is never safe to ride in a car with someone who has been drinking alcohol or using drugs. If there is even a suspicion of alcohol or drug use, your teen should decline the ride immediately. Let your teen know that they can call you for a safe ride home whenever.
The use of a seat belt is lowest among teens. The majority of teenagers involved in fatal crashes are unbuckled. In 2015, a total of 769 teen drivers and 531 passengers died in passenger vehicles driven by teen drivers, and 58 percent of the passengers were NOT wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash. Let your teen know: Not only is buckling up the law, it's also one of the easiest and most effective actions in reducing the chances injury or death in a crash. Help your teen recognize why buckling up is so important (most importantly, because seat belts prevent ejection from a vehicle), and that they must be worn in the front seat and the back seat, every trip, every time.