When I see a teen driver cutting someone off or making another poor driving decision, I often mumble to myself about how bad high school drivers are. And though that’s my personal observation and opinion, the research and stats out there agree with me to a degree.
A recent article from US News & World Report tells us that car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens. If we told teens that eating vegetable X was the leading cause of death, they would probably avoid it like the plague. Driving, however, doesn’t elicit that same response. Despite the frequency of crashes, teens are still chomping at the bit for the car keys.
So how can we as caring, responsible adults help teens be smarter, safer drivers? Start by considering these points.
- Only 10% of teens who share the family car have had an accident in the past year, compared to 25% of teens who have their “own” car. (US News & World Report)
- Children of parents who have authoritative or authoritarian parenting styles were 50% less likely to have had a crash in the past year, compared with parents whose style is permissive or uninvolved (US News & World Report).
- 37% of Texas teens say texting or instant messaging while driving is “very distracting” (Texas Department of Transportation) but that doesn’t stop 42% of urban teens from doing it (Waco Tribune).
- However that percentage should drop since a new Texas law prohibits drivers younger than 18 from using a cell phone for talking or texting while driving (Dallas Morning News).
- Teenage drivers and passengers are among those least likely to wear their seat belts (Texas Department of Transportation).
- But hopefully that will change too now that a new Texas law requires all passengers to wear a seat belt (Austin American Statesman).
To encourage smarter driving practices, GSCTX offers programs like Road Trippin’ and MADD About You for girls in grades 6 and above.
For more on helping teens be safe drivers, see the tips on the Keeping Young Drivers Safe Web site or visit the Texas Department of Transportation’s Teens in the Driver Seat Web site.