School’s Almost Out: Summer Driving Safety and Your Teen

As summer approaches and high school students get ready for the end of classes, here’s a frightening and sobering statistic – motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for U.S. teens each year.

In 2016, some 2,082 teens aged 15 to 18 years old died in crashes on U.S. roads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In 2015, about 2,333 teens between the ages of 16 to 19 were killed in vehicle crashes, with another 235,845 treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries in crashes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. That amounted to six teens dying each day from crash injuries.

According to the statistics, the risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-19-year-olds than among any other age group, says the NHTSA. Teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash, according to the statistics.

Teen drivers who were at the highest risk for motor vehicle crashes in 2016 were males aged 16 to 19, who died at twice the rate of female teen drivers, according to the NHTSA. Teens driving with teen passengers were also at higher risk, as well as newly-licensed teen drivers, the statistics showed, particularly during the first months after they get their licenses. The fatal crash rate in 2016 per mile driven was nearly twice as high for 16- to 17-year-old drivers compared to 18- to 19-year-old drivers.

fatal crash

Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/tillsonburg

With all these terrifying and horrific statistics in mind, here are some common-sense tips and approaches from the NHTSA to help parents keep their teens safer as they drive solo or with friends during the relaxing days of summer.

  • Demand that your teen drivers and their passengers always wear seat belts in your vehicles. Some 48 percent of the teens aged 16 to 19 who died in passenger vehicle crashes in 2016 were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, according to the NHTSA.
  • Teach your teens about the extreme dangers of using drugs or drinking and driving and remind them of laws that have zero tolerance for drinking by drivers under 21 years of age, with severe penalties that can hound them for many years after violations.
  • Be a good role model when it comes to driving, so practice safe driving yourself. Set aside time to take your teen on practice driving sessions. It can be a great way to spend time together and to allow your teen to improve some basic driving skills. Your teen’s learning starts at home.
  • Don’t rely solely on a driver’s education class to teach your teen to drive. Use your time with your teens to bolster their skills and confidence behind the wheel.
  • Remind them of the dangers of distracted driving, including texting while driving or talking on a smartphone while behind the wheel. One in three teens who text have done it while driving, according to the NHTSA.
  • Research has found that dialing a phone number while driving increases your teen’s risk of crashing by six times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times, according to the NHTSA. “Talking or texting on the phone takes your teen’s focus off the task of driving, and significantly reduces their ability to react to a roadway hazard, incident, or inclement weather.”
  • Distracted driving can also mean trying to eat breakfast while driving to school or to drink coffee, apply makeup or change the radio station. “Many teens are distracted by the addition of passengers in the vehicle. Any distraction is a dangerous distraction. Taking eyes off the road even for five seconds could cost a life,” according to the NHTSA.
  • Talk to your teens about the dangers of speeding and violating other traffic laws. In 2016, speeding was a factor in 32 percent of the fatal crashes that involved passenger vehicle teen drivers.

To help counter these dangers, parents are encouraged to talk to their teens about the rules and responsibilities involved in driving, while sharing stories and statistics related to teen drivers and distracted driving.

As part of graduated driver’s licensing laws, which allow drivers to gain experience over time that gives them access to driving at night or to carry additional passengers, teens can also gain responsibilities as they show maturity and responsibility with their driving, according to the NHTSA.

At the same time, parents can create their own rules for their teen drivers, including restricting the number of passengers your teen can have, or the hours your teen can drive, as ways of increasing their awareness about driving safety. “Talk about the consequences of distracted driving and make yourself and your teen aware of your state’s penalties for talking or texting on a phone while driving,” according to the NHTSA.

And don’t forget to set consequences for distracted driving, including suspending your teen’s driving privileges or further limiting where they can drive or the hours during which they can drive, as punishments for breaking the rules.

Keeping our teen drivers and their passengers safe is the responsibility of all of us by providing advice, information, trust and knowledge to our children as they mature and gain experience. May your teens have a fabulous, safe and prosperous summer as they enjoy the season.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in any kind of vehicle incident anywhere in the United States. We pledge to make sure that you and your family get the compassionate, dogged and experienced legal representation that you deserve and expect from a professional legal team which works hard to uncover every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-789-9346 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.

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