Getting a driver’s license is a big milestone for any teenager in Georgia, and these newly licensed teens are eager to hit the road. However, teens lack experience behind the wheel and do not always show good judgment, which heightens the risk they will be involved in a car crash. The following are five safety topics to discuss with your teen driver before handing over the car keys.
2. Distracted driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that one in three teens surveyed reported that had texted while driving. Dialing a phone increases the chance of a motor vehicle accident by six times and texting and driving increases the chance of a motor vehicle accident by 23 times. Cell phones are not the only way a teen driver can be distracted. Eating while driving, putting on makeup or manipulating the radio or GPS can all be distractions. Simply put, hands should be on the steering wheel and eyes on the road while driving.
2. Passenger safety
Teens driving with their peers in the passenger seat can be a hazard. The NHTSA reports that teens were 2.5 times more apt to take risks behind the wheel if there is a teen passenger in the vehicle compared to driving alone. In fact, the chance a teen will make a risky decision while driving with multiple peers in the vehicle increases three-fold compared to driving alone. Moreover, the NHTSA reports that the chance your teen will be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident goes up in direct relation to how many teen peers are in the vehicle. Driving alone or with their parents may be safer for teens.
Many teens may not see speeding as a big deal, especially if they are simply “keeping up with traffic.” Other teens may be excited by the rush of traveling at a high rate of speed or even racing other teens. However, speeding is dangerous. In 2019 alone, speeding played a role in 27% of fatal motor vehicle accidents involving teen drivers. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported that from 2000 to 2011, teens drivers played a role in 19,447 speed-related motor vehicle accidents. Educate your teens on the importance of obeying the speed limit or even driving slower if road conditions or weather conditions are poor.
4. Impaired driving
Teens often experiment with alcohol and drugs. Doing so is illegal, as these substances can impair a teen or even kill them. Teens do not always recognize this risk, and some will drive while impaired, even though it is dangerous and against the law. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that teens are more apt than anyone else to lose their lives in a drunk driving accident. Moreover, a DUI can lead to jail time, the loss of their driver’s license and the possible loss of scholarships and college acceptance. Simply put, teens — just like anyone else — should never drink and drive.
5. Drowsy driving
Teens these days live busy lives. Between school, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs and socializing, many teens do not get enough sleep. A drowsy teen is apt to cause a drowsy driving accident. Drowsiness makes us less alert, slows our reaction time and impairs our judgement. The NHTSA reports that in 2019 alone, drowsy driving played a role in the deaths of 679 individuals although it is estimated by some that drowsy driving is a factor in as many as 10% to 20% of motor vehicle accidents that cause injuries or fatalities. Make sure your teen is getting enough sleep and remember, teens need more sleep than adults generally do.
Teens who practice good driving habits while young are likely to continue to be safe drivers into adulthood. By discussing safe driving practices with your teen, you can help reduce the risk of auto accidents now and in years to come.