February 10th, 2016 by Eli P
Acquiring that first driver’s license is a life-changing event for teenagers and parents. Most teenagers look forward to it with great anticipation. Most parents hope the day never comes.
And with good reason. Statistics show that car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. Teenagers are three times more likely to crash than drivers over age 20. And the most dangerous time of a teen driver’s life is the first 12 months after first receiving their license.
With that in mind, here are 10 things you should know about the new driver in your household.
Teens often use poor judgment.
Teenagers’ brains aren’t fully developed, making them more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations or fail to recognize hazardous situations.
Teens tend to engage in risky driving behaviors.
Teens are also more likely than older drivers to speed and follow too closely to the car in front of them. The presence of male teenage passengers in the car increases the odds that this risky driving behavior will occur.
Lack of experience can kill.
Even teens that don’t engage in risky driving are more likely to crash due to lack of experience behind the wheel.
More teens = higher risk.
Having other teen passengers, male or female, in the car dramatically increases the risk of an accident. Even just one teen passenger can raise the risk of crashing by 44 percent.
Night is a dangerous time for teen drivers.
The majority of fatal crashes for teenage drivers occur between 9 p.m. and midnight.
Seatbelts are lifesavers.
According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than half of teens killed in car crashes were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.
Peer pressure can be hard to resist.
All teens and no adults in the car can be a recipe for disaster. Peer pressure can often cause even the most responsible teens to act in ways they would never do alone.
Teenagers, alcohol and driving don’t mix.
Nearly 20% of teenage drivers involved in fatal auto accidents have a blood alcohol content above the legal limit.
Texting while driving is even worse.
Distracted driving is another leading cause of teenage auto fatalities. Texting while driving can be even more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.
Your teenager learns about driving from you.
Studies show that teens learn a lot about driving from the way you drive. Are you serving as a good role model?
Graduated Driver Licensing Programs (GDL)
To help reduce the high number of teenage auto fatalities, parents can enroll their teenagers in a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program . Offered by every state in the U.S., these programs enable teenage drivers to safely gain driving experience before obtaining full driving privileges.
These programs require greater participation from parents and typically include three distinct phases:
- Learner: teenagers engage in supervised driving, cumulating with a driving test
- Intermediate: limits unsupervised driving in high-risk situations
- Full privilege: teenagers earn a standard driver’s license
In some states, GDL programs have been associated with reductions of up to 40% in injury and fatality crashes among 16-year-old drivers.