Tips for Raising Safe Teen Drivers

Teen drivers are involved in more car crashes, per mile, than any other age group.  Auto accidents are the leading cause of death among United States teens, accounting for a whopping 36% of all deaths.

Young drivers are also the most costly on our roads.  While persons aged 15 to 24 only represent 14% of the U.S. population, they account for 30% of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries - $19 billion annually. 

Teens are more dangerous on the roads for several reasons:

    -          They are more likely to speed and less likely to allow for the proper distance between cars.

    -          They are more likely to underestimate hazardous or dangerous situations.

    -          Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use of any age group.

    -          Teens are more likely to use drugs or alcohol while driving than older age groups are.

So what can parents do to help prevent injuries to their teenaged drivers?  The Rhode Island Department of Health offers several tips:

Don’t rely solely on driver education.  High school driving classes don’t make your teen a safer driver.  Because attitudes and decision-making are often more important than driving skills, your influence will be more important than that of the driver’s education teacher.  It is especially important to talk to your young driver about seat belt safety and responsibility behind the wheel.

Follow the laws for teen driving restrictions.  Rhode Island restricts teen driving at only the very latest hours – from 1 am to 5 am.  Rhode Island also requires that no more than one passenger be in the car with a driver during the first twelve months that he has his license.  Because law enforcement cannot catch every teen driver who violates these rules, it is important for parents to step up and enforce the rules on their own.

Restrict nighttime driving.  Most fatal crashes involving young drivers occur between 9 pm and midnight.  By restricting the number of times your teen is on the road during these hours, you are providing for their safety.

Restrict passengers.  New drivers can be easily distracted by other teens in the car.  Peer pressure can also encourage the teen to drive more dangerously. 

Remember you are a role model.  Despite what they say, many teens look to their parents as role models for behavior.  Studies demonstrate that teens with previous car crashes and violations often have parents with poor driving records also.

Choose a safe vehicle for your child.  Even if you can’t control how your son or daughter drives, you can control what they drive.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has road-tested many cars for front and side crash ratings.  These ratings can be found here.

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