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Teens’ Biggest Dangers

20Newly licensed teens crash much more often than older, more experienced drivers. These are the circumstances that are the most common trouble areas for young drivers.

Seat belts

The unfortunate reality is that teens buckle up far less than adults. A 2008 study showed that belt use amongst teens is the lowest of any age group, just 76 percent compared to a national average of 85 percent. In fact, the majority (58 percent) of young people 16 to 20 years old who were involved in fatal crashes were unbuckled. Whether sitting in the front or back of a car, buckle up every trip and remind other passengers to buckle up too. It could save their lives, and yours. Please visit NHTSA’s website for more information https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts

Drugs and alcohol

Teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population. In 2016, nearly 20 percent of teenagers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. Marijuana is the drug that’s most commonly found in the blood of drivers who have been in a car crash. It is important to enforce a zero-tolerance policy at home. If your teen uses any alcohol or drugs, they cannot drive, nor should they ride with anyone who has been drinking or using drugs — in any amount. Any driver under the age of 21 who has a BAC of .02 or more will automatically have their driving privilege suspended for 6 months. It is illegal for any teen to possess or consume alcohol in Florida.

Fatigue

As teens get older their bedtimes get later, and waking times often are earlier. From ages 13 to 19, nightly sleep is reduced by 40–50 minutes. Teen drivers who sleep less than 8 hours a night are 33 percent more likely to crash than teens who get more than 8 hours of sleep. This lack of sleep results in depressive moods, more risk-taking behaviors, and lower grades. It further reduces a person’s ability to process information, be attentive, and have good reflexes, which are all crucial to safe driving. Studies have shown that being awake for 18 hours has a similar impact to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08.

 

Inexperience

Just as it takes years to perfect any skill — athletic, artistic, or otherwise — it also takes years to be a truly good driver. Until teens are much more experienced, they run a greater risk of crashing, being hurt, and potentially dying. A driver’s license makes them a legal driver. Experience makes them good drivers.

Night driving

For teens, the most severe crashes occur at night and on weekends. Night driving is challenging for all drivers, but novice drivers do not have the experience to anticipate and react when visibility is reduced. When teens drive at night, it is more often with a lack of adult supervision, with other teen passengers, and at higher speeds — all of which are factors that increase risk.

Drowsy driving

Staying alert means focusing on the road and not driving when fatigued. Review signs of drowsy driving, such as difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or drifting from one’s lane. Remind your teen to take a break after driving for 2 hours, or after 100 miles. Teens should avoid driving at times they would normally be sleeping. Always increase following distance at night.

 

Other teens

Research is clear on the fact that risky teen driving behaviors increase in the presence of teen passengers. The more kids there are in the car, the stronger the likelihood of a crash. This is the primary reason many states have passed laws that restrict the ability of teens to drive with their peers.