Teenagers, specifically males, ages 16 to 17 are the most deadly road hazard today. This group is responsible for untimely deaths nationwide, even more than suicide and cancer. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an average of six teenagers die per day from motor vehicle collision related injuries. Alarmingly, statistics predict that one in four teens will be involved in a motor vehicle collision within their first six months of permitted driving. The primary cause of these sad incidents is distraction. Among these distractions are phones, other GPS devices, radios, and perhaps the most threatening distraction; passengers.
Friends Don’t Make Good Passengers
Just by adding another teen passenger the risk of collision increases to about forty percent, and increases exponentially with the more passengers added. New Mexico Law prohibits more than one other teenage passenger in the vehicle when driving on a probationary license. But once the regular licenses are granted, parents should still encourage adherence to this rule. Many experts belief that peer passengers are a bigger distraction threat 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, Facebook updates, sports notifications, and more. Ways to rid these distractions include turning off notifications, docking the phone in a windshield view for maps or direction applications, and only glancing, if mandatory, for no more than two seconds. The “two second glance rule” includes radio station changing and adjusting the climate settings. Some car manufacturers are making vehicles safer by including hands free features, steering wheel controls and Bluetooth. Others have even implemented teen driving controls that allow parents to monitor the teen driver from afar.
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 it encompasses a likelihood of harm, hazard, and danger that is imminent and significant. The best time to talk about this is during the driver-training phase, because even if your teen feels as confident as Ricky Bobby, this does not mean the drivers on the road around them are just as safe. Test your teen with different types of roads under different conditions, and discuss the driver behavior they witness while on the road. Discussing the dangers of the road in combination with the law are great ways to determine the riskiness of your driving teen. 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.