Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers, with six deaths reported every day. Studies have shown the staggering reality that one in two children will be involved in a car accident before leaving high school and teens are three times at risk of dying in a vehicle than any other age group. There is plenty you can do as a parent, however, to greatly reduce the risk of your child being hurt or killed in a car crash. Through education and the enforcement of family rules, you can make sure that your child is equipped to drive safely and responsibly.
Data Shows Teens are Inexperienced and Distracted
One of the most influential factors in teen car accidents is inexperience. Teenagers are less capable when it comes to judging the speed of vehicles, how much space is required to change lanes or maneuver the vehicle, and how quickly their own vehicle can come to a safe merging speed. They are also more likely to be distracted by music, mobile devices, and their friends while they are behind the wheel.
The National Organization for Youth Safety released the following data as part of an effort to educate parents on key safety concerns facing their teen children.
- 58% of accidents involving teenagers are caused by distracted driving. The number of drivers who are operating a vehicle while texting or talking on the phone is alarming and children need to have restrictions placed on the usage of these devices to ensure their safety. While recent laws have served as deterrents for distracted driving, it is important that you make certain your child understands why it is important to avoid texting or talking while driving.
- 66% of teenage drivers or passengers who die in car accidents are not wearing a seatbelt. You can greatly improve your child’s chance of surviving a collision by developing a habit of never placing the vehicle in motion unless everyone is buckled up.
- One-quarter of teen car accidents are caused by underage drinking. Many parents don’t suspect that their own children would ever drink and drive, but peer pressure and other influences often cause teenagers to make poor decisions. It is a good idea to discuss this danger with your child and to let him or her know to call you instead of getting behind the wheel if he or she ever drinks alcohol.
What You Can Do to Prevent Teen Driving Accidents
Experience and education are the two most powerful preventative tools you can use to keep your child safe. It is important to understand that just because he or she passed a driver’s exam doesn’t mean that he or she has the experience of decision making prowess to handle a vehicle as you can. Continue to practice and develop your child’s skills even after he or she has earned a license.
While laws are in place to act as a deterrent and catch those who are behaving recklessly, the rules that you put in place and enforce will go much farther than the law ever can. You need to be clear on subjects such as curfew, driving at night, how many passengers they may have in the vehicle, and the usage of the radio and cellular devices.
Also, make sure to let your children know what to do in the event of an accident. This includes who they should call, how to interact with the police and the other driver, and how to produce important documents such as the vehicle’s registration and insurance information. Make sure they know where these items are located in the vehicle so that they can access them quickly.