Parenting is no easy task, and parenting teenagers comes with its own unique set of challenges. Last week was National Teen Driver Safety Week and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Henry County Safe Communities Coalition want to help empower parents to discuss the importance of driving safety with their young drivers and to remind parents not to hand over the car keys until their teen knows the rules of the road.
Here are some tips on how to talk about safe driving behaviors with your teens and to address the most dangerous and deadly driving behaviors for teen drivers:
Impaired driving: All teens are too young to legally buy, possess or consume alcohol. But alcohol isn’t the only substance that can keep your teen from driving safely: 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 belt safety: 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 2018, almost half (45%) of the teen passenger vehicle drivers who died were unbuckled. Even more troubling, when the teen driver involved in the fatal crash was unbuckled, nine out of 10 of the passengers who died were also unbuckled. Remind your teen that it’s important to buckle up on every trip, every time, no matter what — front seat and back.
Distracted driving: Cell phone use while driving is more than just risky — it can be deadly. Remind your teen about the dangers of texting and using a phone while driving. Distracted driving isn’t limited to cell phone use; other passengers, audio and climate controls in the vehicle, and eating or drinking while driving are all examples of dangerous distractions for teen drivers. Also remind your teen that headphones are not appropriate to wear while driving a vehicle, as they can distract a driver from hearing sirens, horns or other important sounds.
Speed limits: Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially for teens. In 2018, more than one-quarter (28%) 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. Remind your teen to always drive within the speed limit.
Passengers: Passengers in a teen’s car can lead to disastrous consequences. Research shows 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.
For more information about National Teen Driver Safety Week and to learn safe driving tips to share with your teens, visit www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving.