Teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes than any other age group. That’s mainly because they’re less experienced and lack the attitudes and behaviors that come with experience.
Specific risk factors that teens and parents should be aware of include:
One in three teens who text say they have done so while driving. And although teens aren’t the only ones to drive distracted, their inexperience makes them more susceptible to the dangers.
Teen drivers – who don’t have much experience on the road – are easily distracted by other teens in the car, who might not appreciate just how distracting their behavior can be. And teens who drive with passengers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that teen drivers were 2.5 times more likely to engage in at least one risky behavior when driving with a teen passenger, compared to when driving alone. If the number of passengers increases, so does the likelihood of the driver taking risks.
In 2016, almost one in five teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. Even while sober, teens are already more likely to take risks and lack the judgment and experience of an older driver. Add alcohol or drugs into the mix and the risks are amplified.
Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seatbelt use. While wearing one won’t prevent your teen from crashing, it could save their life if they do crash.
Teenage drivers are more likely than older drivers to speed and leave an unsafe following distance. This means they have less chance to react in an emergency situation and a smaller “escape space” if things go wrong.
Teens are busy people; whether they are studying, socializing, working or using technology. This combination of activities can impact on their sleep habits which, in turn, can lead to driving while tired. In 2016, drivers aged 15-18 accounted for almost one in 10 fatal drowsy driving crashes.
What can parents do?
Parents play an important role in keeping their teenage drivers safe behind the wheel. Download eDriving’s FREE Smart Driving Guide to refresh your skills on techniques that will keep you safe behind the wheel and ensure you’re setting the best example to your teen.
As a family, consider taking eDriving’s two-hour One More Second® Defensive Driving Course to prepare everyone in your family for the surprises that driving can bring. It’s ideal for parents who are teaching their teens to drive and for reminding all drivers of the correct behaviors needed to stay safe on the road.