The week of Oct. 18 is recognized as National Teen Driver Safety Week, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The awareness week serves as a time to remind parents across America to have conversations with their teens about the dangers they face on the nation’s roadways, what they can do to stay safe behind the wheel, and to reflect on their own driving behaviors.
According to the latest data available from NHTSA, more than 3,200 teens were involved in fatal crashes in 2017. Moreover, 2,526 were killed in crashes that year, and of that, 229 were killed in distraction-affected crashes.
“Motor vehicle crashes remain as the leading cause of deaths for teens,” says Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs for AAA East Central. “It is our hope that this week serves as a reminder to parents everywhere to talk openly and honestly with their young drivers about the steps they need to take behind the wheel.”
Recent AAA research has found that for every mile driven, new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash compared to adults. This is largely due to their inexperience, and their likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors. According to the new AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, about 72 percent of teen drivers aged 16-18 admitted to having engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors in the past 30 days:
• Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (47 percent)
• Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (40 percent)
• Texting (35 percent)
• Red-light running (32 percent)
• Aggressive driving (31 percent)
• Drowsy driving (25 percent)
• Driving without a seatbelt (17 percent)
AAA encourages parents to:
• Talk with your teens. Have open and honest conversations early and often about safe driving habits. Set a time each week to discuss avoiding dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving. Discuss any concerns, review the teen’s driving performance, and chart progression towards established goals and benchmarks.
• Lead by example. Your teens are watching how you drive, so be a positive and responsible role model. Teach by example, and minimize risky behavior when driving.
• Establish ground rules. Establish a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
• Practice makes perfect. Conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen.
Submitted by AAA East Central, a not-for-profit association with 76 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. Views expressed may not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.