We care deeply about our clients’ safety and well-being both on and off the road. In honor of Teen Driver Safety Week, we’re focused on raising awareness about teen driver safety statistics and best practices for keeping your family safe behind the wheel.
Here are important facts and statistics you and your teenager should know about teen drivers.
Empower Your Loved Ones
- Remind your teen driver that driving is a privilege, not a right. If they aren’t following the rules of the road, they shouldn’t expect to have the keys to the car.
- Become familiar with your state’s nighttime driving restrictions, passenger restrictions, and all the graduated driver licensing (GDL) restrictions, and help law enforcement and educators enforce them.
- Practice constant communication about safe driving skills. Self-reported surveys show that teens with parents who set and enforce firm rules for driving typically engage in less risky driving behaviors and are involved in fewer crashes.
- Be a good role model for your teen driver and set an example with your own safe driving habits.
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Know the Facts about Teen Driver Fatalities
- Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens (15-18 years old) in the United States.
- Parents: You can be the biggest influence on your teen’s choices behind the wheel. Take the time to talk with them about some of the biggest driving risks for teens, including:
- Impaired Driving: All teens are too young to buy, possess, or consume alcohol. However in 2018, 16% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes nationwide had alcohol in their system. But alcohol isn’t the only substance that can keep your teen from driving safely. Like other drugs, marijuana affects a driver’s ability to react to their surroundings. Driving is a complex task, and marijuana slows reaction time, affecting a driver’s ability to drive safely. Remind your teen that driving under the influence of any impairing substance — including illicit or prescription drugs, or over-the-counter medication — could have deadly consequences.
- Seat Belts: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways to stay safe in a vehicle. Yet too many teens aren’t buckling up. In 2018, 45% of the teen passenger vehicle drivers who died were unbuckled. Even more troubling, when the teen driver involved in the fatal crash was unbuckled, 9 out of 10 of the passengers who died were also unbuckled.
- Distracted Driving: Distractions while driving are more than just risky — they can be deadly. In 2018, nearly 10% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.
- Put it Down: Talk to your teen about safe cellphone use while in the car. Require them to stow their phones while driving, designate a texter, or to pull over before answering phone calls or responding to text messages.
- Speeding: In 2018, 28% of all teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash, and males were more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than females.
- Passengers: Teen drivers transporting passengers can lead to disastrous consequences. Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up dramatically in direct relation to the number of passengers in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers.
Remember the Rules of the Road
- Don’t Drive Impaired.
- Set a good example and do not drive after drinking or consuming marijuana or other impairing substances. Remind your teen that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and/or marijuana and driving should never mix, no matter your age. Driving under the influence of any impairing substance — including illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs — could have deadly consequences.
- Buckle Up — Every Trip. Every Time. Everyone — Front Seat and Back.
- Lead by example. If you wear your seat belt every time you’re in the car, your teen is more likely to follow suit. Tell your teen to buckle up on every trip, every time, no matter what (both in the front and back seats), including in taxis and when using ride-sharing services.
- Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel. All the Time.
- Tell your teen about the dangers of texting, dialing, or using mobile apps while driving. Require your young driver to put their phones away when they are on the road and turn on the “Do Not Disturb” or similar feature on their phone. Distracted driving isn’t limited to phone use; other passengers, audio and climate controls in the vehicle, and eating or drinking while driving are all sources of dangerous distractions for teen drivers. Know your state’s law regarding mobile phone and texting while driving restrictions; 38 states and Washington, DC ban all cell phone use by novice drivers. See Distracted Driving Law Chart. If your teen disobeys, enforce the penalties you set for your teen before they started driving.
- Obey All Posted Speed Limits.
- Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially for teens who lack the experience to react to changing circumstances around their cars. Obey the speed limit, and require your teen to do the same.
- Limit Passengers.
- With each passenger in the vehicle, your teen’s risk of a fatal crash increases. Review your state’s GDL law before your teen takes to the road; it may restrict the number of passengers in the vehicle operated by a driver with a learner’s permit, and it may further limit passengers to adult family members only.
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Engage in Safe Driving Conversations Year-Round
Start the conversation with your teen about safe driving habits during National Teen Driver Safety Week and continue the conversation every day throughout the year. Don’t let them tune out — keep reinforcing these rules.
Get creative! Talking is just one way to discuss safe driving.
Get it in writing. Create a parent-teen driving contract that outlines the rules and consequences for your teen driver. Hang the signed contract in a visible place as a constant reminder about the rules of the road.
If you and your teen are going somewhere together, let your teen drive. Make sure he or she is following your guidelines.
Finally, be empowered. Driving — for everyone, teen and adult alike — is a privilege, not a right. If your teen is having a difficult time following the rules, it may be time to take away the keys and review the basics. Safe teen drivers can mean the difference between life and death — for themselves, their passengers, and other people on the road.
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ABOUT CORY WATSON ATTORNEYS
Cory Watson Attorneys is a nationally recognized personal injury law firm with offices in Birmingham, Alabama; Memphis, and Nashville, Tennessee. The firm has recovered more than $3 billion for clients across the country. Cory Watson Attorneys are frequently at the forefront of major class actions and multidistrict litigations involving dangerous pharmaceuticals and product liability, and are often appointed to leadership positions in national cases. Firm practice areas include Personal Injury, Product Liability, Class Action, Asbestos, Business & Commercial Litigation, Dangerous Pharmaceuticals, Defective Medical Devices, and Environmental/Toxic Torts.