New drivers are often excited to have their license and that taste of independence, but they may overestimate their own driving abilities. According to the CDC, car collisions are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. While teenagers account for roughly 14 percent of the population, teenage boys are responsible for about 30 percent of collisions among male drivers, and teenage girls account for 28 percent of auto collisions among female drivers.
Teens and Passengers: A Dangerous Mix
It’s convenient to have a teenager ferry their friends around, but parents should use great caution when allowing this. Research shows that teens driving with passengers are more likely to cause a collision, and the risk increases with the number of passengers.
Low Numbers for Seat Belt Use
Despite having grown up with seat belts, modern day teenagers are the least likely group to buckle up. A 2013 survey revealed that only 55 percent of high school students use a seat belt when riding with another teenage driver.
Risky Behavior Behind the Wheel
Teens are more likely to follow other drivers too closely and to drive too fast for conditions. Furthermore, they lack the ability of older drivers to recognize dangerous situations and take appropriate action.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 71 percent of teens have composed or sent text messages while driving, and 78 percent admit to reading text message while driving. It’s estimated that 3,328 people were killed in situations where driver distraction played a role.
The Month with the Highest Risk
Drivers who have received their license in the last month are at the highest risk for collisions. New drivers should take extra caution on the road to stay focused and avoid injury.
Nearly 23 percent of drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 who were involved in a fatal crash had been drinking. In a national survey from 2011, 22 percent of teenagers admitted to riding with a driver who had been drinking, and 10 percent said that they had driven after drinking.
Parents and guardians can help minimize the risk to their children by providing them with more hours of supervised driving. The dangers of distracted driving cannot be stressed enough, and drivers of all ages should be encouraged to leave their phone in a purse or the center console while behind the wheel. Limiting the number of passengers in a car is also a wise decision. As teenage drivers spend more time behind the wheel and on the road, they’ll naturally improve their skills, reflexes, and ability to read a situation, but it’s important to keep them safe in the process. Making sure they are prepared to drive by having them take classes is very important as well.