Motor Vehicle Crashes Leading Cause Of Death For Teens
DPS officer with 7 ways to help your teen be a better driver
Two teens were killed last week while the driver was live-streaming herself on a Pennsylvania highway. The two girls were broadcasting themselves on Facebook while driving slowly when a tractor-trailer plowed in the back of their car.
Police continue to investigate the cause of the accident, but young drivers are always at risk any time they are on the road.
In 2015, more than 81,900 drivers ages 15-19 were involved in traffic crashes on Texas roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in teens, ahead of all other types of injury, disease or violence. The Texas Department of Public Transportation states there are more than 100,000 traffic crashes in Texas each year involving distracted driving.
While the Facebook Live aspect of the story in Pennsylvania has gained the most media attention, the two girls were participating in at least two other activities that Safe Kids Worldwide describes as risky behavior:
- They were driving without adult supervision. When two or more teens ride in a vehicle with a teen driver, the risk of a fatal crash can double or even triple with more passengers in the car.
- They were driving after midnight. The risk of a fatal crash at night can be more than three times higher for teens than adults.
Lonny Haschel, a staff lieutenant for the Texas Department of Public Safety, encourages teens, and all other drivers, to avoid distractions while driving by putting away their phones.
Lt. Haschel says there are steps parents can take before their child gets behind the wheel to help them be safer on the road:
- Make sure the teen has taken all the Texas DPS suggested driver education courses.
- Work with insurance companies and take advantage of any programs offered. This may help with insurance rates when the new driver receives his or her license.
- During the period when the teen has a learners permit, get plenty of practice driving. Driving is like any other skill; the more you practice the better you become.
- Teach the new driver to be respectful of others on the roadway and be courteous.
- Make sure your teen is taught how to maintain the vehicle. Each driver needs to know how to check fluid levels and change flat tires.
- Teach them who to call in an emergency and how to respond in the event they are involved in a crash.
- Make sure the teen knows that they can always call the parent for guidance, regardless of the situation.
Most importantly, Lt. Haschel says it’s important for parents to establish ground rules when handing the keys over to teen drivers. If you want your teen to drive safely, give them a good model by putting your phone away while driving.
“A parent/teen driving contract can help spell out the guidelines and the consequences if the terms are not followed,” Lt. Haschel said. “They need to address topics such as friends in the car, smart phone use, GPS use, vehicle maintenance and family responsibilities. Many insurance companies have teen driver programs, so we encourage parents to work with their insurance agents.”
Resources For Young Drivers:
- Parent/Child Driver's Agreement from SafeKids
- Teens in the Driver Seat
- Why Parents Should Get Involved Video
- Teen Driver Information