Today’s teens are busier and more engaged than ever. Unfortunately, this also means they are more distracted, especially while driving
Now in its eighth year, National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 19 – 25, 2014) is an annual time to raise awareness and encourage teens to make better decisions behind the wheel. It is also a time to increase parental involvement as teenagers gain driving experience. The theme this year is “Support Older Novice Drivers: Build Awareness of the Trend in Delayed Licensure.”
Many teens delay obtaining their driver licenses until after age 18 for not only economic reasons, but also to avoid Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) requirements. While it can be a practical, responsible choice for families, there are still things parents need to know to keep young novice drivers safe. Remember that all novice drivers have a higher risk of an accident no matter what their age when first learning to drive. Parents need to instill safe driving by first setting a good example. It is important to share with your teen drivers the “5 to Drive” rules before they hit the road, courtesy of the NHTSA. By addresses the five most dangerous and deadly behaviors for teen drivers, parents can ensure their teenage becomes a safe, smart and skilled driver.
1. No drinking and driving. Compared with other age groups, teen drivers are at a greater risk of death in alcohol-related crashes, even though they’re too young to legally buy or possess alcohol.
2. Buckle up each and every time. In 2012, more than half (55 percent) of teens killed were not wearing seat belts.
3. Put it down. In 2012, among drivers 15 to 19 years old, nearly one in five were distracted by their phones. Don’t let one text or call wreck it all.
4. Stop speeding before it stops you. In 2012, speeding was a factor in almost half (48%) of the crashes that killed 15- to 20-year-old drivers.
5. No more than one passenger at a time. Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teens in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers.
For those that wait until after 18 to obtain a license, parents should encourage their teen to prepare a personal GDL. As your teens are gaining independence, keep in mind that they are still kids. Set rules and restrictions, and remember the learning never stops. Even experienced drivers need practice in new driving situations. Parental involvement as teenagers gain driving experience is crucial to helping teens make better decisions behind the wheel, and it can save a life.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.