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Teens’ Biggest Dangers

Newly licensed teens crash much more often than older, more experienced drivers. In addition to distracted driving, these are the circumstances that are the most common trouble areas for young drivers:

Seat belts

A 2018 study showed that while seat belt use among teens and young adults increased in the past decade to 87%, this age group, (age 16–24), still has the lowest seat belt use of any other age group. Nearly half of teens killed in car crashes are unrestrained. In 2019, 43% of high school students did not always wear a seat belt as a passenger. 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. This is despite the fact that they cannot legally purchase or publicly possess alcohol in any state. When alcohol is added to the inexperience of teen drivers, the results can be deadly. Drunk male teenage drivers are 18 times more likely than a sober male teen driver to be killed in a single-vehicle crash. Drunk female teenage drivers are 54 times more likely to be killed than a sober counterpart. Laws for operating under the influence of alcohol also apply to drugs. Almost any drug can affect your driving skills. Illegal drugs, prescription medicines, and over-the-counter medicines can all make it dangerous to drive. If you plan to drive, be smart and have no alcohol, marijuana, or any other drugs in your system.

Fatigue

As teens get older their bedtimes get later, but waking times do not tend to change. 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 can result 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 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 high speeds – all of which are factors that increase risk.

Teen passengers

Research is clear on the fact that risky teen driving behaviors increase in the presence of teen passengers. A teen who is driving with other teens in the car is more likely to crash. 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.