National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 20-26, 2019, and is a great opportunity for parents to sit down with their teen drivers and discuss the importance of driving safety. Whether teens are driving a car, truck, or SUV, and whether they’ve just earned their license or have had it for years, the rules stay the same, and they shouldn’t have the keys if they don’t know the rules. Parents, the greatest dangers for teen drivers — and the areas of focus for your conversation — are alcohol consumption, inconsistent or no seat belt use, distracted driving, speeding, and driving with passengers in the vehicle.
Know the Facts About Teen Driver Fatalities
- Motor vehicle
crashes are the leading cause of death for teens (15-18 years old) in the United States, ahead of all other types of injury, disease, or violence.
- In 2017, there were 2,247 people killed in crashes involving a teen driver (15-18 years old), of which 755 deaths were the teen driver — a 3% decrease from 2016.
- Parents can be the biggest influencers on teens’ choices behind the wheel if they take the time to talk with their teens about some of the biggest driving risks, including:
- 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.
- Seat Belts: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. 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.
*Statistics from the NDDOT 2018 Crash Summary Report
*Information is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration