It’s a scary statistic: Teen drivers are three times more likely to get into an accident than adults (per mile driven). As the parent of a teen driver, your biggest nightmare is learning that he or she has been in an accident. Understanding some of the biggest risk factors that contribute to these crashes can help you talk to your children about auto safety – and, hopefully, avoid ever hearing such tragic news.
Three significant factors increase the risk of accidents among teen drivers:
1. Texting or using a cellphone while driving
Talking on the phone while driving is a major mental distraction. Texting is even more dangerous. Looking down at a phone screen – even for a split second – can cause your teen to lose control. The car could easily veer into another lane. The distraction can also make it impossible to come to a quick stop if necessary.
Getting your child to understand the serious risk they run when they use their phone can be hard, but it’s a talk all parents should have.
2. Drunk driving
Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol have an accident rate six times higher than unimpaired drivers. What’s more, alcohol and drugs are a contributing factor in nearly half of roadway fatalities.
Your teenager has probably heard about the dangers of drinking while driving. Nevertheless, it’s important to regularly remind them of the risks. A single mistake in this regard can haunt them for the rest of their lives. By making this fact abundantly clear, you can help them make the right choice in a life-or-death situation.
3. Getting distracted by passengers
Many states impose restrictions on provisional driver’s licenses that limit how many passengers a teenager can have in their car. In Pennsylvania, drivers who hold a junior license can’t have more than one minor in the car who is not related to the driver. This limit goes up to three passengers once six months without an accident have gone by. Limiting the number of people in your teenager’s car can help mitigate distractions, especially when they are first starting out on the road.
You can’t entirely prevent your teen driver from taking risks, but you can educate them about these common dangers – and empower them to make the right decision when it counts.