Teen Drivers Need Extra Attention


Buckle up. Put the phone away. Slow down. Don’t drive drunk.

That is the message the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility advocated during its recent support of National Teen Driver Safety Week.

During the past 25 years — first as The Century Council and now under its current name — the foundation has educated the public about safe driving practices and seen a reduction in crashes. But there is a lot of work to do, and one segment of the driver population that requires additional attention is teen drivers, who historically have crash rates greatly exceeding those of older, more experienced drivers.

The good news, according to the foundation, is progress is being made in many areas that can be attributed to driver education, teen driver safety laws and increased public awareness. One of those areas is drunken driving. Drunken driving fatalities among those under age 21 declined 80 percent from 1982 to 2014, the foundation reported, and in the last decade, there has been a reduction of 48 percent.

Despite progress, a recent report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that teen drivers are still 1.6 times more likely to be involved in a crash than adult drivers, with teen crashes increasing by 10 percent last year compared to 7.2 percent for adult drivers. Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for all 15 to 20 year olds, and teens continue to have the highest crash rate of any group of drivers in the United States.

To address this issue, the foundation encourages everyone to speak with their kids and friends about how to be safe behind the wheel. Parents play a pivotal role in promoting good driving habits among their children by setting a good example. Teens who say their parents set rules and monitor their activities in a helpful, supportive way are half as likely to crash and 70 percent less likely to drive intoxicated than teens who describe their parents as less involved.

That’s why parents should always model safe driving behavior, discuss safe driving with their teen on an ongoing basis, and sign a “safe driving contract” such as the one described under the “Parents” tab of Responsibility.org’s www.iknoweverything.com website.