Many teen deaths and life threatening injuries from car crashes are preventable. There are proven strategies that can improve the safety of teen drivers behind the wheel, but if they are not buckling up… the fatality statistics will continue to be high.
To many of us, wearing your seatbelt is common sense… but the fact is, teens are underestimating the danger of not wearing their seat belts. To make matters worse, teen peers are dramatically influencing this risky behavior. Is your teen wearing his/her seat belt even if it’s considered uncool?
DriveSafeRideSafe is encouraging teen driving education that combines parental involvement and peer strategies in the learning process to increase teen seat belt use and the overall safety of young drivers.
Two-thirds of teens killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts.
Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use in comparison to mature drivers.
In 2005, 10% of high school students reported they rarely or never wear seat belts when riding with someone else.
Male high school students (12.5%) were more likely than female students (7.8%) to rarely or never wear seat belts.
Take steps to improve your teen’s safety. Ask your teen about his/her seat belt habits. For more parental support, visit http://www.drivesaferidesafe.com for our DVD with advice for parents to help their teens before, during and after the time they’re learning to drive .
Q: Dear Mike: My daughter will be getting her license soon and we’re getting ready to buy a car for her. Do you have any advice for us? -Theresa of Hazlet, NJ
A: Dear Theresa: The first thing I’d say is to make sure you’ve given her plenty of practice time with you in the passenger seat. That’s always the most important point I want to make, because it’s the only way your daughter is going to be ready to drive safely without you, no matter what car she’s driving. As far as buying a car that’s especially for a teenager, you need to think about safety before anything else. Do your homework; you can go to www.Crashtest.com to find out ratings for specific vehicles. Another good website is www.IIHS.org. That’s the site for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an organization supported by insurance companies to do research and crash tests above and beyond what the government requires. Your daughter probably wants you to make a decision based on looks or features like a sun-roof, but you really need to look at the impact studies for head-on collisions, t-bones AND rollovers. Know the details, not just the overall safety rating. Whatever you do, don’t buy a junker just because it’s cheap; there are some cars that are still on the road that I tell my students I’ll personally pay to have towed to the salvage yard because I consider them so unsafe in a collision. -Mike Pehl
Hand-held cellphone use is highest among 16- to 24-year-olds and the fines for texting or phone use can be costly. So put your phone in the glove box or in the trunk of your car – seriously! Unless you’re waiting for a new kidney, is the call really that important?!?
37% of male drivers ages 15-20 who are involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time. What’s your hurry? The old saying “time is money” could be talking about teens and speeding tickets because the time a teen saves by speeding can add up to a 15-45% increase in their insurance premiums.
Statistics show that 16- and 17-year-old driver death rates increase with each additional passenger. Sure it’s fun to drive your buddies and besties around, but it is important, especially in the beginning, that you limit the number of passengers with your teenage drivers. Parents, start with limiting them to 1 or 2 passengers. Let them get comfortable driving with other people and then adjust the number if you feel they can handle more passengers. This is a good compromise since your teen can still drive with their friends and you can stop worrying about your teenage drivers being distracted by too many passengers.
BUT BE CAUTIONED:
55%, or 2,014, of the 3,678 occupants of passenger vehicles ages 16-20 who are killed in crashes are not buckled up. Belts are IN. Wear them. Also be warned, teen drivers: if passengers in your car are not belted and they are injured in a crash – insurance companies can blame the DRIVER for the injuries of any unbelted passenger. If your teen is found to be at fault, the injured parties would have the opportunity to sue your insurance company to recover as much of those costs as possible. In the event that the insurance company doesn’t cover everything, suing you and your family would be the next logical step. If that happens, you could lose your home or possessions, along with a portion of your wages through garnishment.
31% of drivers ages 15-20 who are killed in motor vehicle crashes have been drinking some amount of alcohol; 25% are alcohol-impaired, meaning they have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 grams per deciliter or higher. In this instance, not only would your premiums increase dramatically, it would be cause for many insurance companies to drop your policy altogether … not to mention potential jail time that would affect your life for years.