Many parents view the teen driving years with mixed emotions. On the one hand, a driver’s license signifies an end to the endless chauffeuring that is a hallmark of kids’ younger years, and this brings some welcome relief to parents. On the other hand, teen driving leads to no shortage of anxiety when considering the dangers that come part and parcel with seeing their kids behind the wheel of a car. Here are the top 10 risks for teen drivers (and their passengers):
1. Driving during summertime. Summer is the deadliest season for teen drivers, with seven of the top 10 deadliest days occurring during the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to the American Automobile Association. Teens drive more during the summer, which may account for the increased risk.
2. Driving under the influence. It is probably no surprise that impaired driving puts teens at risk. What might be surprising is that nearly 1 in 4 teens admits to driving impaired. Perhaps worse, is that of these, up to 34% believe that impairment improves their driving.
3. Driving while sleepy. Kids who don’t get enough sleep significantly increase the risk for being involved in a car crash while driving.
4. Texting while driving. Not much needs to be said about why this is a risk. Still, about 40% to 50% of teens admit to texting while driving. Engaging in other distracting electronics behaviors (like talking on a cellphone) also increases risks.
5. Loud talking and rowdiness in the car. The risk of a teen driver having a serious driving incident is six times more likely when there is loud talking in the car. Rowdy passengers doubled the risk for teen drivers.
6. Driving with peers in the car. Teens who drive with teen passengers put everyone in the vehicle at risk. Teen drivers were more likely to die in a crash if they have one teen passenger, and far more likely to die if they had two teen passengers.
7. Teen drivers who are comfortable with risk-taking. Teens who are more comfortable with stressful situations and risk-taking are more likely to be involved in near-crashes or crashes.
8. Riding with impaired drivers. Teens who have ridden with impaired teen drivers are more likely to drive impaired themselves.
9. Speeding. Speeding as a factor in fatal teen crashes has been increasing in recent years. Half of all fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers with three or more passengers have been found to be speeding-related.
10. Being a female driver. In a study by tire maker Bridgestone Americas, teen female drivers were more likely to engage in dangerous or distracted driving behaviors than males.
With an understanding of the dangers involved with teen driving and an intentional plan that includes placing strict boundaries on driving behaviors, parents can minimize the risks involved and help their kids stay safe during the teen driving years.