As a soon-to-be parent of a teenage driver, the thought of my son driving is unnerving. I remember getting my learner's permit at 15 years of age in Florida, on a Friday, and my anxious mother said, "Let's drive to Miami, and you'll do the driving!" Suffice it to say I was concerned that my minimal driving experience would be challenged on Interstate 95 with all the fast drivers South Florida was known for and the expansive lanes of I-95. I had my eyes on the road and hands on the wheel (back then at 10:00 & 2:00 positions) at all times; no temptation of a cell phone ringing and buzzing, no GPS to look at and fidget with, plus no friends to turn up the music at an unreasonable level. Yes, times have changed since my 25+ years of driving.
I don't necessarily worry about if he'll obey the laws of the road but the distraction of friends in the car or the shiny, sparkly object that mesmerizes him- the mobile phone. We encourage all parents of current teenage drivers and soon-to-be drivers review the safety contract we have on our website under 'Useful Links'. It's a specific list of discussion items that you might not have thought to talk about with your teenager but is very important for responsible driving. Good luck and wish me luck too! - Ana Stallings, anxious Mother of a soon-to-be teenage driver
TOP 10 things you need to know about your teen driving...
To help parents understand the scope of the problem, the National Safety Council compiled a list of the top 10 things many parents don’t know about teen driving:
- Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S.
- Most dangerous time of a teen driver’s life is the first 12 months after receiving a license
- A teen drivers’ crash risk is three times that of drivers ages 20 and older
- Teens crash most often because they are inexperienced – not because they take more risks behind the wheel.
- Teen passengers are one of the biggest distractions for teen drivers. Just one teen passenger raises a teen driver’s fatal crash risk 44 percent. Two passengers doubles fatal crash risk. Three or more quadruples crash risk.
- Most fatal nighttime crashes involving teen drivers happen between 9 p.m. and midnight
- More than half of teens killed in car crashes were not restrained by a seatbelt.
- Most states’ teen driving laws and restrictions do not adequately protect teen drivers from the most serious crash risks
- Teens really do learn to drive from watching their parents. A survey from The Allstate Foundation found 80 percent of teens cite their parents as having the most influence over teens’ driving habits.
- Crash risk remains high after licensure. In fact, young drivers’ crash risk does not significantly begin decreasing until age 25.
Share the list and visit DriveitHOME.org for educational materials, tips and much more.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Safety Council, The Allstate Foundation, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Traffic Injury Research Foundation