Talk to Your Teen Drivers About the “5 to Drive”
Learning to drive is very exciting for teens, and a driver’s license is a giant step toward independence. But when a teen driver is getting ready to hit the road, a parent’s job isn’t done. In fact, talking to your kids about the dangers of driving is one of the best things you can do to keep them safe. Tragically, many parents just assume their teens get this information elsewhere, so they don’t have the conversation. October 19-25 is Teen Driver Safety Week, and it’s a great time for you to talk to your teen driver about the risks he faces.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens 14-18 in America. In 2012 alone, 2,055 teen drivers were involved in fatal crashes, and 859 died.
Every parent should talk to their teens about the rules of safe driving, but a recent survey shows that only 25 percent of parents have done so. It can be difficult to talk to teens about anything, let alone a serious topic like safe driving. Many parents don’t know what to say, or give up if they feel like they’re not being heard. In order to provide you with the tools, resources, and words you need to keep your teens safe, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration teamed up with state and local highway safety and law enforcement organizations on the teen driver safety campaign “5 to Drive”. The education and awareness campaign identifies the five most important rules all teen drivers need to follow.
5 to Drive
Get the facts and start talking to your teen about the “5 to Drive,” and Set the Rules Before They Hit the Road.
- No Drinking and Driving. Compared with other age groups, teen drivers are at a greater risk of death in alcohol-related crashes, even though they’re too young to legally buy or possess alcohol. Nationally in 2012, 28 percent of the young drivers (15 to 20 years old) killed in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher.
- Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Front Seat and Back. In 2012, of all the young (15- to 20-year-old) passenger vehicle drivers killed in crashes, more than half (55%) of those killed were not wearing seat belts.
- Put It Down. One Text or Call Could Wreck It All. In 2012, among drivers 15 to 19 years old who were distracted in fatal crashes, nearly 1 in 5 were distracted by their phones. This age group had the highest percentage of drivers distracted by phone use.
- Stop Speeding Before It Stops You. In 2012, speeding was a factor in almost half (48%) of the crashes that killed 15- to 20-year-old drivers. By comparison, 30 percent of all fatal crashes that year involved speeding.
- No More Than One Passenger at a Time. Extra passengers for a teen driver can lead to disastrous results. Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teens in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers.
Distracted Driving Prevention Summit
Also this week, On Monday, October 20th, NOYS (National Organizations for Youth Safety) will be holding the National Teen Distracted Driving Prevention Summit. Teen leaders from across the country will learn from other teens on how to engage their peers, parents, and policymakers on the issue of distracted driving and end this deadly activity.
In today’s technological society, it has never been easier to access the wealth of resources available on how to have this important conversation. Below are a few suggestions.
- I Know Everything. IKnowEverything is a comprehensive effort focusing on the issues of drunk driving and distracted driving. It reminds parents that they have the most impact on their teen’s driving behaviors.
- It Can Wait. ItCanWait is a no-texting-while-driving campaign concentrating its message on today’s young drivers. The campaign promotes the deadly consequences of texting and driving and asks youth everywhere to share the message that any text can wait while driving. Parents can help support their teens in sharing this lifesaving message.
- Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teens Through the Dangers of Driving. In his book Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving, Tim Hollister notes that: “For teens, the dangers start at “at risk” and go up from there.” He points to the inexperience of teen drivers as well as a number of other factors that come into play. Mr. Hollister uses both research and his personal experience to provide great information for parents and their role in supervising a teen driver and reducing the risks.
For more information about Teen Driver Safety Week and the “5 to Drive” campaign visit www.safercar.gov/parents.
Have A Conversation
Please take the time and talk to your kids—this week and every week—about how to be smart and safe behind the wheel. You can make a difference.
Do you have any suggestions on what has worked for you in having this vital conversation? Let me know in the comments below.