October 15-21 is National Teen Driver Safety Week. During this week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encourages parents to have important conversations with their teenagers about staying safe behind the wheel.
According to the United States Department of Transportation, 2,608 people were killed in crashes involving teenage drivers in 2021.
Car crashes remain the leading cause of death among U.S. teens, and according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers ages 16 to 19 are almost three times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes per mile driven than those ages 20 and older.
Here are some tips to share with your teenager about safe driving.
- Don’t drive while distracted. Research has shown that texting and driving significantly increases crash risk, and in 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that 7% of teen fatal crashes involved distracted drivers. Educate your teen on the dangers of driving distracted—this includes eating, applying makeup and adjusting the radio, in addition to cell phone use.
- Don’t drink or do drugs. Drinking or doing drugs is both illegal and dangerous while driving a vehicle. In 2021, 19% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were intoxicated. Remind your teenager that they should never get in the car with someone who is impaired—in addition to never drinking and driving themselves. Remind your teenager that they can call you or another trusted adult for a safe ride home if they need one.
- Limit passengers. Studies show that a teenager is three times more likely to engage in risky behaviors while driving with multiple passengers. Familiarize yourself with your state’s graduated driving law and enforce these requirements with your teen driver.
- Don’t speed. Speeding was a factor in nearly one-third (32%) of fatal teen crashes in 2021. Closely monitor your teen to ensure safe driving behavior. Be a good role model and don’t speed with your teen in the car.
- Wear a seatbelt. Seat belt use is lowest among teenage drivers. In 2021, over half (51%) of teenage driving fatalities were not wearing a seat belt. Talk to your teenager about why seat belts are essential. Set a good example by always wearing your seat belt with them in the car.
- Don’t drive while drowsy. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, there were 684 fatalities due to drivers being drowsy while behind the wheel in 2021. Studies have shown that teens and young adults are particularly at risk of drowsy driving and subsequent accidents. Carefully monitor and limit your teenager’s night driving per state guidelines.