Talk to Your Teens About Driving - They Are Listening
LIBERTY, October 6, 2016 – Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-to-19year olds in the U.S. In fact, in 2014, there were 2,679 teen (15-19 years old) drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes. An estimated 123,000 teen passenger vehicle drivers were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Yet, a recent survey shows that only 25 percent of parents have had a serious talk with their kids about the key components of driving. Parents need to take the time to talk with their kids about the many dangers of driving, which includes alcohol, seat belts, texting, speeding, and extra passengers.
This year’s campaign, “5 to Drive,” is putting an emphasis on parents talking to their teens about the risks they face while driving. Research shows that parents play an important role in increasing their teen’s driving skills, as they have the greatest influence over their teen’s behavior. In fact, leading experts believe parents play a key role in preventing teen car crashes and deaths. Teens with parents who set rules, monitor their driving, and are supportive, are half as likely to crash and twice as likely to use seat belts as teens with less involved parents. Parents can help by talking with their teens about safe driving practices.
The education and awareness campaign identifies the five most important rules all teen drivers need to follow. Parents need to start talking to their teens about the 5 to Drive, and make certain teens understand these rules before they hit the road:
Statistics show that teens are most likely to have a crash during the first six months after getting their license, which is primarily due to their inexperience. A study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) reports that drivers ages15-to-17 years old are not only at a disadvantage due to their lack of experience, but also due to the incomplete development of the prefrontal cortex of the brain — the part of the brain that helps weigh the consequences of risky behavior. According to the study’s author, Russell Henk, this is the last part of the brain to develop.
TTI also reports that teens are eight-times more likely to be in a fatal crash when they are carrying two or more teen passengers. The Texas Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) law is designed to limit the number of teen passengers that can legally ride with a novice driver. The GDL provides parents with the controls to help keep their teen drivers safe. However, many parents are not aware of the provisions of this law, which are divided into two phases. During phase one, the teen driver must always be accompanied by a person at least 21 years of age. During phase two, teens cannot operate a motor vehicle with more than one passenger who is younger than 21-years-old, unless the additional passengers are also family members. Driving is prohibited between midnight and 5 a.m., unless the teen is driving to attend work or a school-related activity, or responding to an emergency situation. Cell phone use is also prohibited during both phases of the GDL and for all drivers under the age of 18. Making sure your teen follows the GDL law can help get a teen safely through the most critical time when driver inexperience can lead to crashes.