The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration wants to remind parents to discuss with their teens these five rules for safer driving. In 2020, 748 teen drivers died in crashes, and 2,276 teen drivers were involved in crashes where someone died. Safe and sober driving are topics of great importance in May during prom and graduation season for colleges and high schools.
Rule 1: No driving under the influence
It is illegal for anyone under 21 to drink in the United States, yet in 2021, 27 percent of drivers 15 to 20 years old who were killed in crashes had blood alcohol levels of 0.01 g/dL or higher. Responsible teen drivers will plan their safe ride home before going out and choose a non-drinking friend as a designated driver. If someone who has been drinking tries to get behind the wheel, tell your children to get out of the car and, if possible, take away the keys from the impaired driver. With the availability of multiple on-demand ride services, there are plenty of options for getting your teens home safely.
Rule 2: No cell phone use or texting while driving
Statistics show that 21 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones. The article from edgarsnyder.com notes that about 660,000 drivers are attempting to use their phones while behind the wheel at any time throughout the day. Whether it’s texting, changing up a play list, or juggling the GPS, remind your children to avoid using their phones while driving. Tell them to pull over to set up directions, set the playlist before they start their trip, and absolutely do not text while driving.
Rule 3: Always wear a seatbelt
In 2020, 1,885 young drivers (ages 15-20) died in traffic crashes, a 17 percent increase from 1,616 in 2019; More than half (52 percent) were not wearing a seat belt. Wearing a seat belt is one of the most effective ways to protect drivers and passengers alike. Insist your child wear a seat belt any time they are in a vehicle and model the behavior by always wearing one yourself.
Rule 4: No speeding
Speed is a major contributing factor for teen fatalities, according to the CDC. In 2020, 35 percent of male drivers and 18 percent of female drivers (ages 15–20 years) who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. New drivers are more likely to travel too closely behind the cars in front of them, and more likely than experienced drivers to speed.
Rule 5: No extra passengers
The presence of teen or young adult passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with each additional teen or young adult passenger. Any parent knows the distractions children can cause when you have them in the car. Young drivers haven’t learned intuitively how to focus on driving with other distractions in the car. Teenage driving laws in Arizona limit the number of passengers to just one non-family member under 18 for the first six months unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian riding in the front passenger seat.
Milestone celebrations are happening throughout May with proms and graduations where multiple teens and young adults will be driving at the same time. It is vital to remind your teens about the dangers of driving. Make sure you and your teen know that safe driving could save theirs and the lives of others.