New report highlights deadly mistakes teens make behind the wheel
Road rules parents can use to protect their child from becoming a statistic
Every day, six teens are killed in a car crash.
But mom and dad, you may play a larger part than you ever realized in keeping your kids safe behind the wheel. And if you have a son, you may have to have an even longer conversation.
New research from Safe Kids Worldwide and the General Motors Foundation looks at the risks for teen drivers and some of the numbers are frightening, especially for boys:
- In 2014, 2,138 teens ages 15 to 19 died in a motor vehicle crash (2 out of 3 were drivers, 1 out of 3 were passengers). Three out of four were male.
- Of teen drivers killed who had alcohol in their bloodstream when tested, 8 out of 10 were male.
- The risk of a fatal crash by a teen driver is almost 3 times higher if their passengers are male.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in teens. Males make up almost three-quarters of teen driver deaths and typically suffer more injuries than females. The study states “these differences may be partially explained by the fact that teen males are more likely to drive, ride in a car without a seat belt and rive under the influence of alcohol.”
Research shows that the leading causes of crashes among teen drivers are:
- Driver inexperience
- Driving with other teen passengers
- Nighttime driving
- Not wearing seat belts
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Reckless driving (speeding)
- Impaired driving
While the report is scary for parents, it does show they can develop safe young drivers by establishing road rules.
“Parents need to be involved,” said Dana Walraven, Community Health Outreach manager at Cook Children’s. “Make an agreement with your teen on family driving rules. When there is a formal agreement between the parents and teen, we see less risky behavior. Let your child know what is expected of them while driving.”
With a formal rule against it, the report shows 91 percent of kids rarely/never text while driving, 94 percent of kids with an agreement rarely/never drive after an agreement and 90 percent of kids with an agreement always wear their seat belts.
“Along with the formal agreement, parents can make a huge difference by being a good role model when they are driving with their kids,” Walraven said. “Parents shouldn’t text ever, especially with their kids in the car. Pull over if you need to make a call or text. Buckle up on every ride. Don’t speed and follow the rules of the road. The same thing we expect of our children, they expect from us and they are always watching us. Another great thing parents can do is make sure your teen gets at least 50 hours of supervised experienced under a variety of driving conditions. The more experience they get with an adult, the better off they will be when they are alone or with another teen.”
When making the family agreement, Safe Kids Worldwide recommends these seven rules:
- 1.Buckle up: every person, every time.
- 2.Don’t drink and drive.
- 3.Limit the number of passengers in a car.
- 4.Don’t text and drive.
- 5.Follow the speed limit.
- 6.Only drive in the dark after extra practice.
- 7.Speak up when any driver is driving unsafely.