Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In particular, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the 100 deadliest days for drivers from 15 to 20 years of age, according to AAA.
Teenage drivers are just as inexperienced year-round as they are in the summer months, so why is summer the deadliest season? Traffic safety experts give numerous theories for the higher crash rates involving U.S. teens, including:
- More free time
- Less adult supervision
- Driving later at night
- Exploring unknown roads
- Drinking alcohol
- Having multiple passengers
- Peer pressure to take risks
- More teen drivers on the road at the same time
What can parents do to protect their teens?
It is impossible to monitor your teen at all times. Fortunately, by giving your teen driver some rules and tips to follow while driving, parents can decrease the risk of their teen ending up in a motor vehicle accident.
Make ground rules. You should give your teen a few strict “Nos”:
- No cell phones. If you need to get directions, have a passenger navigate or park in a safe area to input directions before driving.
- No alcohol. Ever. Explain to your teen that drinking alcohol while driving greatly increases their risk of an accident. Either tell your teen he can call you for a ride home or order him a taxi. Tell him he should never get into a car with someone who has been drinking.
- No speeding. Tell your teen to always leave 15 minutes early to avoid having to rush.
Other safety tips parents should give their teens:
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- Limit the number of extra passengers in your vehicle whenever possible.
- Avoid driving at night.
- If bad weather arises, park in a safe area and wait it out.
- Never let your gas level drop below a quarter tank.
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Today, everyone has a smart phone. Listed are the top phone applications that you and your teen can download to help with safe driving:
- Drivesafe.ly Pro: offers hands-free phone operation while driving using only your voice (There is no research which says that voice texting is risk free, so you may want to use this as a last resort.)
- Canary: notifies parents (in real time) of their child’s unsafe driving practices
- Live2Txt: prevents distractions while driving
- DriveScribe: monitors and rewards safe driving
- MamaBear: offers GPS tracking
- Uber or Lyft: taxi-like services that offer GPS tracking for the duration of the ride (Account holders must be 18 years or older; however, you [or an older family member or friend] can request the ride for your teen.)
It is not just dangerous; it is against the law.
In Ohio, it is now illegal for anyone under 18 to use a phone while driving. If your teen texts behind the wheel, he can face penalties, such as fines and license suspension. If telling your teen about the dangers of texting and driving is not powerful enough, let him know that if he uses his phone behind the wheel, he can lose his driving privileges.
For more information about safe driving, check out our blog.