According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 7,300 teen drivers and passengers, aged 13 to 19 years of age, died in traffic crashes between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays during the five-year period of 2005-2009. An average of 422 teens died in traffic crashes during each of the deadly summer months. A monthly average of 363 teen deaths occurred during the non-summer months.
“Parents should not underestimate the critical role they play in keeping their teens safe, especially during these high risk months,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA Utah spokesperson. “The higher teen fatality rate is generally attributed to teens having more ‘free’ time to drive or ride in cars with other teens without adult supervision. Parents need to remain involved with their teens and let them know that the choices they make behind the wheel could make the difference between life and death.”
AAA Tips for Parents to Keep Teen Drivers Safe
Restrict driving and eliminate trips without purpose. Teens have three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers, based on amount of miles driven, and a teen’s crash risk is the highest during the first year of solo driving. Parents should limit teens’ driving to essential trips, and only with parental permission, for at least the first year of driving.
Become an effective driving coach. The best way for new teen drivers to gain experience is through parent-supervised practice driving, where parents can share their wisdom accumulated over many years of driving. Even after a teen has a license that allows solo driving, parents and teens should continue to practice driving together. This will help the teen manage increasingly more complex and challenging driving conditions.
Limit the number of teen passengers and time as a passenger. Teen crash rates increase with each teen passenger in the vehicle. Fatal crash rates for 16 to 19-year-olds increase fivefold when two or more teen passengers are present. Also, riding in a vehicle with a teen driver can be risky for teen passengers. The risk of being in a crash begins to increase at the age of 12, well before a teen can obtain a driver’s permit or license. This is before many parents start to think about their children being at risk riding as a passenger of a teen driver. Parents should set firm rules against driving with teen passengers and restrict their teens from riding as a passenger with another teen driver.
Restrict night driving. A teen driver’s chances of being involved in a deadly crash doubles when driving at night. Many parents rightly limit driving during the highest-risk late night hours, yet they should limit evening driving as well, as more than half of nighttime crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight. AAA recommends that newly-licensed teens not drive after 9 or 10 p.m. unless accompanied by a responsible adult.
Establish a parent-teen driving agreement. Many parents and teens find written agreements help set and enforce clear rules about night driving, passengers, access to the car, and more. AAA offers a parent-teen driving agreement on its teen driver safety website, www.aaa.com/teensdrive. This comprehensive website, which includes a link to the AAA National teen driving resource AAAKeys2Drive, offers a variety of additional tools and resources for parents and teens as they progress through the learning-to-drive process.