Teens’ Biggest Dangers
Newly licensed teens crash much more often than older, more experienced drivers. These are the most common trouble areas for young drivers:
We have seen a disturbing increase in speeding in the last 2 years. According to NHTSA, in 2019, speeding was a factor in 27% of fatal crashes among teen drivers 15-18 years. The rate of these fatalities among males was nearly double that of females. Spend time talking to your teen about speeding and model this by following the speed limit yourself. Lastly, studies show that teens are less likely to speed if they drive the family car, instead of having their own vehicle.
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. And 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.
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, in 2013 over half of teens aged 15–19 who were killed in a car crash were not wearing their seatbelt. 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. In 2019, 24% 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.
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 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.
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, getting hurt, and potentially dying. A driver’s license makes them a driver. Experience helps them become safer drivers.
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.