The “5 to Drive” campaign highlights the five necessary rules that teen drivers need to follow to stay safe behind the wheel.
THE PROBLEM — TOO MANY TEENS ARE DYING Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for 15- to 19-year-olds in the United States. In 2013, there were 2,614 teen (15-19 year old) passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes, and an estimated 130,000 were injured.
Parents are the biggest influence on their teen’s safety behind the wheel. Parents need to take the time to talk with their kids about the many dangers of driving. Those dangers include:
- Alcohol: Teen drivers are at a greater risk of death in alcohol-related crashes compared to drivers in all other age groups, even though they’re too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol. Nationally in 2013, almost one out of five (19 percent) of the teen drivers (15 to 19 years old) involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.
- Seat belts: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. Whether their unsafe behavior stems from immaturity or a false perception that they’re invincible, the numbers speak volumes: teens aren’t buckling up, and neither are their passengers. In 2013, 64 percent of all the young passengers (13- to 19-year-old) of teen (15- to 19-year-old) drivers who died in motor vehicle crashes weren’t restrained. When the teen driver was also unrestrained, the number of all passengers unrestrained increased to almost 90 percent.
- Texting: Texting or dialing while driving is more than just risky—it’s deadly. In 2013, among drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 6 percent were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the highest percentage of drivers distracted by phone use. In 2013, 156 people were killed in crashes that involved a distracted teen driver.
- Speeding: In 2013, almost one-third (29 percent) of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were speeding.
- Passengers: 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.
THE SOLUTION—SPEAK UP AND TALK TO YOUR TEEN OFTEN You’ve guided your teen this far. Driving is a new chapter, a step toward independence for many teens. But your job’s not done. Surveys show that teens whose parents impose driving restrictions typically engage in less risky driving and are involved in fewer crashes. They can’t listen if you don’t talk.
SunCoast Traffic School believes the 5 To Drive rules for teens are a starting point for parents to begin having an ongoing meaningful conversation with their teen family members that may help prevent tragedy.