Discover the most influential wayparents can support National Teen Driver Safety Week
The more you practice something, the better you become. In the case of teen drivers, no matter how mature they may be in the rest of their lives, driving is a new undertaking to conquer. Unfortunately, many teens place themselves squarely in the “infallible” category – but that is far from the reality. Car accidents remain the number one cause of death for adolescents, particularly among 16- to 19-year-olds, and the majority of those crashes are caused by driver error and inexperience.
National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW) was an initiative that began in the state of Pennsylvania and was established by Congress in 2007. This measure of awareness is conducted annually during the third week of October. This year, National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 18-24, 2015, and the theme of the week is “Avoid the Regret, Avoid Impaired Driving.” The goal is to teach teens that safe driving helps them avoid regret – a big motivator for young people who want to live life unencumbered. Rather than attempting to scare the teens in your life into practicing careful driving, focus on the factors that can increase their chances of being involved in an auto accident – and come up with a game plan for avoiding them.
Reinforce Driving Dangers to Teen Drivers
More than 5,000 teens are killed every year in motor vehicle crashes. And teens know they’re vulnerable. They may act brave and confident about being behind the wheel of a car, but whether you live in the city or the suburbs, the experience of having a vehicle completely in your hands for the first time can be terrifying. Capitalize on your teen’s awareness of the risks that make them susceptible to danger on the roads and reinforce the following:
- Impairment comes in many forms. Impairment means alcohol and drugs, of course, but there are other types of impairment including fatigue, distraction, and strong emotions. Exhaustion alone can mimic the level of legal intoxication – being awake for 18 hours is similar to having a .08 blood alcohol content level. If your teen is feeling especially susceptible to any of these things, encourage them to call you for a ride instead of getting behind the wheel. Being on your teen’s side rather than overwhelming them with rules will get you further in the battle against dangerous driving.
- Impairment affects many things. Driving while impaired affects reaction time, judgment, and awareness, all important faculties to be in charge of while driving, and especially important for inexperienced teen drivers who crash at four times the rate of adults. Too many passengers in the car or not enough driving practice can affect your teen’s driving ability. Law down some ground rules for having friends in the car, and continue to spend time helping your teen hone his or her skills, even after they’ve officially become licensed drivers.
- Do not use your phone while driving. Distracted driving is a close second to drunk driving when it comes to auto accidents. Discuss the dangers of using your phone while driving. Teens believe they can read or send a quick text, snap a photo, or answer a call without taking their eyes off the road, but it only takes a second for an accident to occur. If your teen is especially resistant to putting their cell phone in their bag, the glovebox, or even the trunk while driving, let your teen know that you are going to install a safe driving app on their phone to monitor their cell phone usage while driving.
- Do not get in the car with a drunk driver.There is no such thing as “a little bit drunk” or a “good drunk driver.” Many teens who choose to drink think designating a driver means the person who is least drunk gets to drive. Reinforce a no-alcohol policy with your teen, whether they’re driving or not. Reinforce that your child should never get in a car with someone who’s been drinking, no matter how little they’ve had to drink and no matter how short the trip. Let your teen know that they can always call you to get home safely.
Teen deaths and injuries on the roads are preventable. Take action to avoid impaired or distracted driving, whether you’re the driver, passenger, or parent. Help your teen live a regret-free adolescence by being there to guide them through their new role as a licensed driver.
Author Bio: David Christensen is an experienced personal injury attorney with Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. Christensen Law is an auto accident law firm that specializes in helping victims with traumatic brain injury from accidents.