With this week being National Teen Driver Safety Week, it is more important than ever to emphasize the need for teen driving safety . Distracted driving presents one of the biggest safety risks for all drivers, especially teen drivers, but the distractions in the car are more than just texting while driving. According to a recent study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the biggest risk comes in the form of other teen passengers alone in the car with the teen driver.
The study found that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in the car, the fatality rate for all people involved in a crash increases by 51 percent. This number stands in stark comparison to other figures that showed that when passengers who are at least 35 years are riding with a teen driver, the fatality rate in crashes decreases by eight percent.
In fact, according to AAA figures from 2016, teen drivers were involved in over one million police-reported crashes. Of these accidents, 3,200 of them resulted in fatalities. When the teen drivers had teen passengers in the car with them, the fatality rates reported increased significantly by going up 56 percent for individuals in the other vehicles, 45 percent for the teen driver, and 17 percent for pedestrians or cyclists involved.
What can parents do to ensure that their teen drivers are safe while on the road? One of the biggest recommendations from AAA is to make sure that all teen drivers receive adequate supervised training in all types of scenarios. Parental involvement reduces the risk of teen driver deaths . It is recommended that the teen drivers start in lower-risk situations and gradually increase to other, more complex driving scenarios, including interstate driving, driving in adverse weather conditions and driving at night- all while having a parent or guardian in the vehicle with them.
Do not assume that the limited driving time the teen has received in driver’s education is enough to ensure that he or she is fully trained. AAA recommends that teen drivers log at least 100 hours of supervised driving with a parent before being allowed to drive alone, let alone with other teen passengers. Supervised driving requires that the parent be sitting in the passenger seat next to the teen driver.
It is also recommended the teen driver not be allowed to drive alone with more than one non-family passenger under the age of 20 years old during the teen driver’s first six months of driving. As the teen driver gains more experience and confidence on the road, slowly allow the teen driver to have other passengers in the car with him or her. Remember to emphasize that driving is a privilege and not a right, one that comes with a great deal of responsibility and consequences.
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