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Distracted Driving

Talking or texting on the phone takes your teen's focus off the task of driving, and significantly reduces their ability to react to a roadway hazard, incident, or inclement weather.


Distracted driving can take on many forms beyond texting and talking on the cell phone. Many teens may try to use their driving time to eat their morning breakfast or drink coffee, to apply makeup, or to change the radio station. Many teens are distracted by the addition of passengers in the vehicle. Any distraction is a dangerous distraction. Taking eyes off the road even for five seconds could cost a life.

Speeding

Speeding is a critical safety issue for teen drivers. In 2016, it was a factor in 32 percent of the fatal crashes that involved passenger vehicle teen drivers. A study by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that from 2000-2011, teens were involved in 19,447 speeding-related crashes.

There is also evidence from naturalistic driving studies that teens' speeding behavior increases over time, possibly as they gain confidence.

Teens should especially be aware of their speed during inclement weather, when they may need to reduce their speed, or with other road conditions, like traffic stops or winding roads.

Drowsy Driving

These days, teens are busier than ever: studying, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and spending time with friends are among the long list of things they do to fill their time. However, with all of these activities, teens tend to compromise on something very important—sleep. This is a dangerous habit that can lead to drowsy driving.

In fact, in 2016, drowsy driving claimed 803 lives, and some studies even suggest drowsiness may have been involved in more than 10-20 percent of fatal or injury crashes. In 2016, teen drivers (aged 15-18) accounted for almost one out of every 10 fatal drowsy driving crashes.

Drowsy driving includes more than just falling asleep. It affects a driver’s alertness, attention, reaction time, judgement, and decision-making capabilities.

Those who are at higher risk for a crash caused by drowsy driving include drivers 17-23 years old, and those who sleep less than six hours a night, drive on rural roads, or who drive between midnight and 6 a.m.

Make sure your teen gets a good night’s sleep, and strictly monitor and limit their nighttime driving. Your teen's friends, passengers, and other drivers will thank them for driving safely.

Extra Passengers

Teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States.
• Increases 44% when carrying one passenger younger than 21 (and no older passengers).
• Doubles when carrying two passengers younger than 21 (and no older passengers).
• Quadruples when carrying three or more passengers younger than 21 (and no older passengers).
• Carrying at least one passenger age 35 or older cuts a teen driver's risk of death by 62% and the risk of involvement in any police-reported crash by 46%.

 

Drunk/Drugged Driving

Talk to your teen about the dangers of drug and alcohol use. Remind them that it is illegal to drink under the age of 21, and it is illegal—and deadly—to drink and drive. If a teen is under 21, his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) should always be at .00, not just under .08, which is the legal limit for drivers over age 21.

Remind your teen that underage drinking is illegal, and driving under the influence of any impairing substance – including illicit, over-the-counter, and prescription drugs – could have deadly consequences.

If lucky enough to survive a crash as an impaired driver, your teenager will face the consequences of breaking the law. Those include a possible trip to jail, the loss of his or her driver's license, and dozens of other expenses including attorney fees, court costs, other fines, and insurance hikes. Your teen will also stand to lose academic eligibility, college acceptance, and scholarship awards.

It Matters:
Teens, Alcohol, and Driving

Stop Underage Drinking Portal

NHTSA Stats on Teen Driver Crashes
Involving Alcohol

Seatbelts

Tragically, seatbelt use is lowest among teen drivers. In fact, the majority of teenagers involved in fatal crashes are unbuckled. In 2016, a total of 818 teen (15- to 18-year-old) drivers and 569 passengers died in passenger vehicles driven by teen drivers, and 58 percent of those passengers were NOT wearing their seatbelts at the time of the fatal crash.

As teens start driving and gradually gain independence, they don't always make the smartest decisions regarding their safety. They may think they are invincible, that they don't need seatbelts. They may have a false notion that they have the right to choose whether or not to buckle up.

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