teens

You Should Know: Keeping Back-To-School Teen Drivers Safe

Road Safety Tips for Teen Drivers
Heading Back to School

Labor Day weekend is over and summer is in the rearview mirror. New backpacks are crammed full of the tools of learning: laptops, books, pens, pencils, notebooks and more. But what about the tools young drivers need to stay safe on the road? These tips can help the teen drivers in your life get from home to homeroom in one piece.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. It is estimated that on average, six teenagers die every day in the United States from a car crash. As teens head back to school, you should know how to keep them, and others, safe.

The Stats

Teens who text and drive are  outside of their lane   about 10 percent of the time.

Teens who text and drive are outside of their lane  about 10 percent of the time.

A teen driver on the road is more likely to cause a car crash than any other driver. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash. Young men are two times more likely to get in a crash than young women.

If your teen driver has recently received his or her license, inexperience can spell disaster out on the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers ages 16 to 17 are twice as likely to get in a car crash compared to teen drivers ages 18 to 19. 

Teens are also less likely to practice safe driving behavior, such as using seat belts or maintaining a safe following distance. In 2015, only 61 percent of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else. [Download report.]

The Risks

Teens are also much more likely to drive distracted. Drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related crashes, and 42 percent of teens admit to texting while driving. Carpooling seems like a convenient way to get to school, but teens riding with other teen drivers increase the risk of distraction with every additional teen passenger. Here are all eight of the CDC danger zones most often linked to teen crashes:

  1. Driver Inexperience
  2. Driving with Teen Passengers
  3. Nighttime Driving
  4. Not Using Seat Belts
  5. Distracted Driving
  6. Drowsy Driving
  7. Reckless Driving
  8. Impaired Driving

The Parents

So, what can parents do to prevent teen driving tragedies?

  • Most important, lead by example. Forty-eight percent of young drivers have seen their parents talking on a cell phone while driving, and 15 percent of those have seen their parents texting while driving. Show your kids how to drive responsibly by driving distraction free, wearing your seatbelt and following all speed limits and traffic laws.
  • Set limits. Multiple teen passengers and late-night driving lead to more crashes. Limit the number of passengers for your teen drivers and set a curfew.
  • Buy a safe car. The car your teen drives should be reliable. Purchase from a reputable dealer, and check all cars at Safercar.gov for recalls. Make sure your young driver knows what to do if a car breaks down.
  • Practice driving with your teen. Provide your teen driver with 30 to 50 hours of supervised driving practice over at least six months. Practice on a variety of roads, at different times of day, and in varied weather and traffic conditions. Stress the importance of continually scanning for potential hazards including other vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Create a Parent-Teen driving agreement. Put your driving rules in writing to clearly set limits, as well as the consequences for not following those rules.

This article appeared in our September 2017 "You Should Know" e-newsletter.

The Dangers of Texting & Driving - Facts & Statistics

"I think we can all agree: new technology offers many benefits - computers have allowed lightning fast data processing, the internet created a global world, and mobile phones provide us with convenience and a valuable safety tool.
Unfortunately, the law of unintended consequences almost always rears its ugly head when it comes to technological advances. In terms of cell phones, one of the most dangerous consequences has proved to be a rise in distracted driving." - Misha Safranski, MoneySavingPro

Click here to learn more about the dangers of texting and driving at MoneySavingPro.

Teens 50% of All Pedestrian Deaths, Ages 5 to 19 

Traffic deaths are up 6 percent since 2010, pushing U.S. road fatalities to the highest level in a decade. However, the percentage increase in pedestrian deaths is far outpacing those on the road, jumping 25 percent from 2010 to 2015. Walkers on smartphones, bicyclists ignoring traffic rules, coupled with distracted driving, are a deadly combination. 

Teens, who are much more likely to walk distracted with a mobile device, make up 50 percent of all pedestrian deaths ages 5 to 19.

Our recommendations: 

Make sure your children understand the importance of looking both ways before they step out onto a roadway. Point out the traffic lights to them and explain their significance. Also, if an intersection is equipped with a pedestrian light, point that out to them and make sure they understand what the illuminated symbols mean. Stand on the corner for a full cycle of the light and pedestrian signal to make sure your children understand how they work and who has the right-of-way when. Never cross against the light with your children even if there is no one coming or if others are doing it. You do not want to teach your children bad habits or to take unnecessary risks. Impress upon your children that even if they have the right of way they should still look and be cautious because you can never assume that drivers are paying attention. It only takes one misstep. And finally read our May newsletter and discuss it with your children. Stay safe out there.

Guy W. Crabtree is a partner with Crabtree, Carpenter & Connolly, PLLC, in Durham, NC.

You Should Know: Cell Phones Not the Only Cause of Distracted Driving

Teens Most at Risk but Often Learn Dangerous Behavior from Parents    

Americans hate to waste time, even while driving. Whether via smartphones or the new hands-free systems standard in many vehicles today, we can talk with friends, family or business associates, search for the nearest gas station, or pull up a review of that new restaurant. Most people also think they can do all this while driving and not cause a crash. But that’s where they’re wrong: An estimated 431,000 people were injured in distracted driving-related motor vehicle accidents in 2014, up from 424,000 in 2013. The death toll was 3,179.

What exactly is distracted driving? Cell phones factor into many kinds of distractions, but there are plenty of other ways to lose focus while driving. The three types of distracted driving as identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are:

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving

This can include texting, talking on a phone, eating, grooming, reading, using a navigation system, adjusting music or reacting to the behavior of a passenger.

Texting while driving tops the list of dangerous distractions and has already been banned in 46 states. Research has shown that texting and driving is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Texting is also the communication method of choice for most young people. Therefore, it is not surprising, say many safety advocates, that drivers under 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.

Parents can play an important role in teaching their teens about the dangers of distracted driving by setting a good example themselves, yet 48 percent of teens have seen their parents use a cell phone while driving. Fifteen percent have seen their parents texting while driving [download report].

Watch for Other Distracted Drivers and Pedestrians

Even if you’re a good driver and try to stay focused on the road at all times, you have to be aware of others who might be distracted. Ninety percent of adults consider distracted driving unacceptable in other drivers, yet 35 percent of those same drivers admit to driving distracted. Defensive, focused and cautious driving is your best bet to prevent an accident with a careless driver.

Another dangerous behavior on the rise is distracted walking. Even if a person is not behind a wheel, they can be at risk if walking while talking on a cell phone or listening to music through headphones. Among those 19 and under, teens account for 50 percent of all pedestrian deaths. Older teens have accounted for a staggering 25 percent increase in pedestrian injuries in the past five years. Over half of all adults have been involved in a distracted walking encounter.

Stop Distracted Driving Before It Stops You

Distracted driving accidents may be on the rise, but these incidents are 100 percent preventable. Here are some commonsense tips on how you can protect yourself and others:

  • Visual distractions: Keep your eyes on the road, pull over to read directions, and put your phone away.
  • Manual distractions: Keep your phone out of reach, make all adjustments before driving, and don’t reach for items while driving.
  • Cognitive distractions: Avoid phone calls (even hands-free), stay focused on the road, and keep your emotions in check.

Also consider visiting EndDD.org for a safe driving agreement that you can print and share with your family. Together, we can keep our streets safe for pedestrians and drivers alike.

 This article appeared in our April 2016 "You Should Know" e-newsletter.