Why do 20% of new teenage drivers cause a car wreck within the first six months of driving?
Their rampant alcohol, drug, and cell phone use and other distractions added to their inexperience make the odds they crash into you rise dramatically.
The National Teen Driver Safety Week ends tomorrow. Its theme of Five to Drive addresses the five major causes of teens causing and getting hurt in accidents:
- Alcohol and drugs
- Distracted driving
- Being distracted by passengers
- Not wearing seat belts
Sadly, automobile accidents are the number one cause of death for teenagers in the United States.A whopping 2,679 teens died and 123,000 were injured in car wrecks just in 2014.
Avoiding these five problems will reduce these tragic statistics dramatically.
Alcohol use is a factor in 4,700 teen deaths every year. About one-quarter of fatal teen accidents involve alcohol. Zero tolerance laws and education are helping to reduce this number, but we need to do more. For example, if the ridiculously drunk “affluenza teen” who had just turned 16 had been stopped from driving his truck loaded with other teens that night, the horrific crash never would not have happened.
2. Not buckling up
52 percent of the teens who died in car accidents were not wearing their seat belts. Many of them would have survived had they been belted up. The good news is that more teens are starting to get the picture. But there should be 100% usage.
3. Distracted driving
Unfortunately we aren’t making the same great headway with distracted driving. Ten percent of teen drivers who were involved in fatal auto accidents were reported as being distracted. Teens represent the age group with the highest percentage of distracted driving crashes. The biggest problem? Texting while driving. Teen drivers are not even allowed to drive and use a cell phone until they reach 18 or for the first six months after they obtain learner’s permits.
Teens are more likely to speed and to leave less room between vehicles than adults. Their sense of freedom and excitement from going fast comes with enormous risks. Teens were speeding in more than one-third of fatal crashes. They also put others in danger. Last month a Dallas teen killed a couple and critically injured their 17 year-old daughter when she blazed through an intersection at 87 mph.
5. Extra passengers
The surprising results of a study found that passengers were the biggest distraction to teens. Accident risk increased by 44 percent when passengers were in the teen’s car. Parents need to set a hard and fast rule: teens can socialize at a meeting destination, not while driving there.
Our roads are already far too dangerous. These constant crashes by teenagers have to stop.