Keep Teenage Drivers Safe on the Road

As graduation time rolls around, it is essential that parents encourage safe driving habits and speak with their teenagers about drinking and driving.

DENVER, CO, April 22, 2008 -- It's that time of the year when many teens are getting ready to graduate from high school, and with that comes all the celebrations and graduation parties. More teenage drivers will be traveling in cars with their friends, which has shown to pose a driving risk. Add to that risk the number of teen drivers under the influence of alcohol and you've got a potentially deadly situation on your hands.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. Their statistics show that teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers. Because of this growing trend, teenage driving has become a hot topic with the drivers by the NHTSA, auto insurance companies, and by both state and federal law makers.

After a rash of fatal accidents involving teenage drivers in the past year, the state of Connecticut passed a reform package that increases the number of on--the--road driver's education hours for teens while making the laws stricter for those young drivers caught speeding and driving recklessly. This ranges from having the young driver's license suspended for 48 hours or up until they turn 21 years old, depending on the incident.

The new bill also included increased involvement by parents and guardians. With the many budget cuts that have taken place in states across the country, more of the responsibility lies with the parents or guardians to ensure their teenage drivers receive the appropriate drivers education. The good news in all of this is not only will your teenager be better prepared when they get on the road, but you could save money on your teen's auto insurance premiums, which could be high.

Many also encourage parents to speak with their teenagers about the potentially fatal risk of driving while under the influence of alcohol. The NHTSA's "Underage Drinking. Adult Consequences." is comprehensive underage drunk--driving enforcement and prevention campaign targeting underage drinkers. It states that nationally, 64% of all drivers or motorcycle operators ages 15 to 20 who were involved in fatal traffic crashes and had a BAC of .08 or higher died as a result of the crash.

Teenager Driver Crash Risk Factors include:

  • Driving at an unsafe speed -- 35.3% of fatal/injury crashes by 16 to 19--year olds were a result of unsafe speed
  • Low risk perception and risk taking -- young novice drivers tend to underestimate crash risks
  • Poor hazard detection -- novice drivers are not skilled in identifying hazards on the road
  • Not wearing seatbelts -- teenagers need to get into the habit of buckling their seatbelt from an early age, even before they're old enough to get behind the wheel
  • Lack of skill -- teen drivers have not yet mastered basic vehicle handling skills and safe--driving knowledge they need to drive safely, which is why drivers education is so critical
  • Carrying passengers -- the fatality risk of drivers aged 16--17 years is 3.6 times higher when they are driving with passengers than when they are driving alone
  • Night driving -- The per mile crash rate for teenaged drivers is 3 times higher after 9:00 pm during the day
  • Alcohol and drugs

As the summer rolls around and school comes to a close, more teens will be on the road, going to summer jobs, running errands for their parents or just enjoying their time away from school. By taking the appropriate actions now, communicating with your teen, ensuring they have safe driving habits and having teenage drivers insurance, this happiness they're experiencing can continue for many, many more years to come.