Crashes involving drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 have been on the rise for the last several years in New Mexico. Whether young drivers are more careless or they just have more to be distracted by, they are clearly a bigger threat to themselves, their peers, and other innocent motorists than they have been in the past.
If you have a teen driver in your household, you should be aware of the risks associated with young drivers—especially young male drivers—and take steps to protect your child and others on the road.
Recent Statistics From NMDOT
In 2016—the most recent year for which statistics are available from the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT)—the teen and young adult driver crash rate was at its highest level in five years. For drivers aged 15-19, there were 126.5 crashes per 1,000 licensed teen drivers. For young adults aged 20-24, the crash rate was 78.8 per 1,000 drivers. The average rate of crashes across all age groups was 42.6, so teens have triple the crash rate of the general population and young adults are almost twice as likely to crash as older drivers.
Tips for Safer Teen Drivers in Albuquerque
As a parent, you have the power to reign in your teen driver for his own protection and the protection of others on the road. One way to do this is to limit dangerous distractions, including cell phones, GPS devices, radios, and perhaps the most threatening distraction—passengers. A few ways you can keep your teen and other drivers safe include the following:
- Friends don’t make good passengers. Adding just one teen passenger to a car driven by a teen increases the risk of collision to about 40 percent, and the risk increases exponentially with each passenger added. New Mexico law prohibits more than one teenage passenger in a vehicle driven by a probationary driver, but once the regular license is granted, parents should still encourage adherence to this rule. Many experts believe that peer passengers are a bigger distraction than cell phones.
- Mute the phone to reduce the risk of accidents. Cell phones are still a huge problem when it comes to distraction. In today’s world, a teenager’s cell phone is constantly getting text notifications, Instagram updates, SnapChats, and more. Ways to stop these distractions include silencing the phone, turning off notifications, and using an app that disables the phone while driving. While hands-free phone use is an option in many newer cars, this is still a major cognitive distraction for inexperienced drivers.
- Be a backseat parent. No one wants to be a helicopter parent, but it is important to stress to your teens that every time they get behind the wheel, there is a risk of an accident. The best time to talk about this is during the driver-training phase. Make sure your teen has experienced different types of roads under different conditions, and discuss the driver behavior they witness while on the road. One thing that all researchers agree on is that parents aren’t supervising enough. Studies show that the more the parent is involved, the lower the risk of a crash. Even after your teen has a license, make a point of riding with him occasionally to straighten out dangerous or lazy behavior.
As a parent, you have a responsibility to make sure your teen driver is not endangering his passengers or other motorists.