Consider the following statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and discuss them with your teen before he/she gets behind the wheel of a car:
- The largest proportion of adolescent injuries are due to motor vehicle crashes.
- Adolescents are far less likely to use seat belts than any other age group.
- When adolescents drive after drinking alcohol, they are more likely than adults to be involved in a crash, even when drinking less alcohol than adults.
- Adolescents also cause a disproportionate number of deaths among non-adolescent drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
- Alcohol is involved in nearly 23 percent of adolescent (15 to 20 years) driver fatalities.
- Fifty-four percent of all teen motor vehicle deaths occur on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Thirty-five percent occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Safer teenage driving
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has made the following recommendations to pediatricians in coordination with parents to ensure safer teenage driving:
- Emphasize to both the parents and teenagers how important safe driving is, including the fact that teenagers need to develop driving skills with supervised practice.
- Set a good driving example as an adult.
- Establish limits on your teenager's driving privileges, such as a limited number of passengers and/or restricted nighttime driving.
- Impose penalties for irresponsible driving behavior.
- Supervise teenage drivers in vehicles.
- Make sure the vehicle is mechanically safe.
- Get involved in community advocacy, such as helping coordinate alcohol-free events, to help support parent-peer initiatives and help teenagers avoid negative peer pressure.
- Support legislative advocacy that targets a reduction in motor vehicle crashes among teenage drivers, such as graduated licensing systems, stricter minimum driving age laws, and tougher safety belt laws.