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Safe driving for teens

Definition

Learning to drive is an exciting time for teenagers and their parents. It opens up many options for a young person, but it also carries risks. Young people between ages 15 and 24 have the highest rate of auto-related deaths. The rate is the highest for young men.

Parents and teens should be aware of problem areas and take steps to avoid hazards.

Alternative Names

Driving and teenagers; Teens and safe driving; Automobile safety - teenage drivers

Information

Teens also need to commit to being safe and responsible drivers in order improve the odds in their favor.

  • Reckless driving is still a danger to teens -- even with automobile safety features.
  • All new drivers should take a driver's education course. These courses can reduce crashes.

Drivers and passengers should use automobile safety features at all times. These include: seat belts, shoulder straps, and headrests. Only drive cars that have air bags, padded dashes, safety glass, collapsible steering columns, and anti-lock brakes.

Auto accidents are also a leading cause of death in infants and children. Infants and young children should be properly buckled into a child safety seat of the right size.

Distractions are a problem for all drivers. Do not use cell phones for talking, texting, and email when you are driving.

  • Mobile phones should be turned off when driving so you are not be tempted to make calls or answer the phone.
  • If phones are left on for emergency use, pull off of the road before answering or texting.

Other tips include:

  • Avoid putting on makeup while driving, even when stopped at a light or stop sign, it can be dangerous.
  • Finish eating before starting your car and driving.

Driving with friends can lead to accidents.

  • Teens are safer driving alone or with family. For the first 6 months, teens should drive with an adult driver who can help them learn good driving habits.
  • New drivers should wait should wait at least 3 to 6 months before taking friends as passengers.

Teenage-related driving deaths occur more often in certain conditions.

  • Reckless driving is still a danger, even when using seatbelts. Don't rush. It safer to be late.
  • Avoid driving at nighttime. Your driving skills and reflexes are just developing during the first months of driving. Darkness adds an extra factor to cope with.
  • When drowsy, stop driving until fully alert. Sleepiness may cause more accidents than alcohol.
  • Drinking slows reflexes and hurts judgment. These effects happen to anyone who drinks. So, NEVER drink and drive. ALWAYS find someone to drive who has not been drinking -- even if this means making an uncomfortable phone call.
  • Drugs can be just as dangerous as alcohol.

Parents should talk with their teens about "household driving rules."

  • Make a written "driving contract" that both parents and teens sign.
  • The contract should list the rules and what teens can expect if rules are broken.
  • The contract should state that parents have the final say about driving rules.
  • When writing the contract, take into account all the driving issues that are likely to come up.

Parents can do the following to help prevent teens from drinking and driving:

  • Tell their teens to call rather than get in a car with a driver who has been drinking or when they have been drinking. Promise no punishment if they call first.

Some children continue to mix driving and drinking.

References

Simons-Morton B. Parent involvement in novice teen driving: rationale, evidence of effects, and potential for enhancing graduated driver licensing effectiveness. . 2007;38(2): 193-202.

Ginsburg KR. National young-driver survey: teen perspective and experience with factors that affect driving safety. . 2008;121(5): e1391-403.

Martinez R. Teen crash victims: who are these people and why are they here? . 2005; 45(2): 155-156.

Gonzales MM. Student drivers: a study of fatal motor vehicle crashes involving 16-year-old drivers. . 2005; 45(2): 140-146.

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    Encyclopedia content is provided as information only and not intended to replace the advice and instruction from your personal physician.