Parents: talk to your teen driver about safe driving during National Teen Driver Safety Week Oct. 17-23, 2021

National Teen Driver Safety Week is Oct. 17-23, 2021. Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Your teen is in the driver’s seat, but you’re in control

It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week. This week, and every week, parents should have conversations with their teens about the important rules they need to follow to stay safe behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. These rules address the greatest dangers for teen drivers: alcohol, inconsistent or no seat belt use, distracted and drowsy driving, speeding, and number of passengers.

Facts about Teen Driver Fatalities:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens (15-18 years old) in the United States.

In 2019, there were 2,042 people killed in crashes involving a teen driver, of which 628 deaths were the teen driver.

Parents can be the biggest influencers on teens’ choices behind the wheel if they take the time to talk with their teens about some of the biggest driving risks. You should let your teen drivers know that obeying the rules of the road is a must. Breaking the rules leads to walking, riding the bus, using rideshare or going back to begging for rides from mom and dad.

The Rules of the Road

Wear seat belts

The car doesn’t move until everyone is buckled up — front seat and back, on every trip, every time. Almost half of the passengers killed in cars driven by teen drivers in recent years weren’t buckled up in 2019.

No drinking and no drugs

Emphasize the fact that it’s illegal to drink before you’re 21 — and that driving drunk or high is unacceptable at any age. In 2019, 16% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.

No distractions

Driving is the first and only task when behind the wheel. That means no phones or texting while driving, and not doing anything else — like eating, drinking, or fixing hair and makeup — when you should fully focus on driving. About 10% of all teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in recent years were distracted at the time of the crash. Teens should activate the “do not disturb” feature on their phones to eliminate the distractions notifications cause.

No speeding

About 27% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding in 2019. Faster speeds rob inexperienced teen drivers of the extra reaction time they may need to avoid a crash. Emphasize that they must obey posted speed limits.

Limit extra passengers

Teen drivers are at a greater risk for a crash when they have others in their car. Passengers can serve as a distraction for inexperienced teen drivers, and that’s why many states’ graduated driver licensing (GDL) restrictions prohibit any passengers in vehicles with teen drivers. GDL laws also set other limits on teen drivers for safety.

Drowsy Driving

We all know how important sleep is, especially for your teens during the school year when studying can cause long nights. Remind your teen the importance of a good night’s sleep, and the dangers of drowsy driving.

Don’t just set the rules — set the example

Parents, you’re role models. When a teen driver sees you obeying the rules of the road, they get the message. If you’re breaking the rules, they may adopt those behaviors when they’re on the road. Check yourself: assess how you’re driving (whether you’re following the rules of the road) and think about what your driving communicates to your teen driver.

While National Teen Driver Safety Week is a great reminder to discuss safe driving as a family, keep the conversation going year-round. If you do, you’ll not only better protect your young driver, you’ll be contributing to safer roads in your community. For even more information, visit our Teen Driving section.

The Antioch Police Department contributed to this report.



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