Driving, in general, presents numerous risks. However, with a teenager behind the wheel, these risks increase dramatically.
Inexperience is a big factor in car accidents involving teens, but there are other factors as well. Parents can make a big difference by becoming more involved in their teenager’s driving.
Stats and risk factors
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hundreds of teenagers receive injuries and around six teens die every day due to car accidents. Although they represent only around 6.5% of the population, teenagers cause more crashes than drivers of any other age group.
Of the accidents involving teenagers, crashes are more common within the first few months of teens receiving their licenses, due to the inexperience level. Accident rates are also higher for males and when there are other teenagers in the car.
Along with inexperience, other factors that increase the risk of accidents and injuries are the lack of seatbelt use, speeding, nighttime driving and drinking alcohol.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, parents play a big role in the development of a teenager’s driving abilities and habits. One thing parents can do is to understand and enforce the state’s graduated driver licensing laws. Common requirements include the limitation of nighttime driving and teenage passengers as well as no cell phone use.
Parents should set a good example when driving by refraining from distracting behaviors, following the speed limit and other traffic laws, keeping hands on the wheel and turning off the phone. Parents can also increase the teen’s experience behind the wheel by accompanying them on drives and guiding them through more complicated driving situations such as snow, busy traffic and construction zones.