In 2020, according to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA), 2,276 teens (15-18 years old) were killed in crashes. Teen motor vehicle crashes are preventable, and proven strategies can improve the safety of young drivers on the road. This school year, your teens may even be new drivers or riding around with new drivers. Make sure they know the best behaviors to keep themselves safe.
ALWAYS Buckle Up!
Seatbelts save about 15,000 lives each year. Tragically, seat belt use is lowest among teen drivers. In fact, most teenagers involved in fatal crashes are unbuckled. In 2020, 52% of teen drivers who died were unbuckled. Even more troubling, when the teen driver involved in the fatal crash was unbuckled, nine out of 10 of the passengers who died were also unbuckled. As teens start driving and gradually gain independence, they don’t always make the smartest decisions regarding their safety. They may think they are invincible, that they don’t need seat belts. They may have a false notion that they have the right to choose whether to buckle up.
Your teens need to know seatbelts are non-negotiable. If one of their friends is driving, your kids are at greater risk of injury. Young drivers simply don’t have the years of driving experience that you do. Every time your teens sit in a car, they need to buckle up immediately.
Keep Stuff on the Floor
The dashboard may look like a shelf, but the laws of physics turn it into more of a launch pad in the event of a crash. Loose items in the car can become projectiles. The best place for books and bags is in the trunk. If that’s not an option, the foot well is the next best place.
Don’t Distract the Driver
For new drivers, more people equal more distractions. When your kids are new drivers or riding with a new driver, they are in more danger without any added distractions. Drivers need to maintain focus and should never engage in horseplay.
NEVER, EVER EVER Ride with an Impaired driver!
Sometimes teens mistakenly think they can help an upset, drunk friend get home more safely by riding with them. Make sure your teen knows there is nothing they can do from the passenger seat except become a victim. Talk to your teen about finding another ride home. They need to call you, use a rideshare app or call a cab. They must never ride with a drunk or drugged driver.
Remember: Every teen deserves a designated driver…every time.