What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Young Drivers on the Road

 In Vehicle Safety

The Risks

Road crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths annually.

For many parents, handing their teenager the keys to the car can be very scary. That fear for your young drivers is not irrational. It’s founded in real statistics. Every year, according to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), road crashes are the leading cause of death for young drivers. There are a number of factors that play into that alarming stat, including…

  • Driving Experience:  The CDC found the risk of crashing is nearly double for 16 and 17 year olds than 18 and 19 year olds.
  • Seat Belt Use:  Young drivers don’t buckle up like they should. At least 48% of teens killed in car crashes in 2016 were not wearing seat belts (CDC).
  • Alcohol:  According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol was a factor in 20% of fatal crashes involving a teen driver in 2016.
  • Speeding:  In 31% of deadly crashes that same year, the young driver was speeding (NHTSA).
  • Driving While Distracted:  NHTSA reports that teen drivers are 6 times more likely to crash if they’re dialing a phone number, and 23 times more likely to crash if they’re texting.
  • Driving with Other Teens:  The American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety found that teens driving with other teens were 51% at risk to be killed in a crash compared to driving alone.

Old Vehicle vs. New Vehicle? What’s Best?

So what can parents do? Protecting your new teen driver starts with choosing the right vehicle. And here’s why. Teens often get the keys to an old family car, or sometimes a vehicle is purchased specifically for them. In the first case, parents buy a vehicle for themselves thinking they can pass it down to their child. However, this can lead to teens driving older vehicles with fewer modern driver-assistance technologies and less protection. The result is similar if parents buy an older, used vehicle to save money in order for the teen to “learn on.”

On the other hand, when a new vehicle is in the mix, the teenager usually drives that decision process opting for a faster and sportier vehicle. Obviously, these preferences can lead to vehicles that are too powerful, tempting the teen driver to speed. Another issue in new cars is fuel efficiency, especially if the teen has to foot the gas bill. This may lead them to consider a smaller car which may not provide the protection the teenager needs in the event of a crash.

Protecting your new teen driver starts with choosing the right vehicle. Auto Grades can help.

With so many choices and so many serious consequences of those choices, parents need to first research a vehicle’s Auto Grade. Auto Grades are the only safety ranking system with age and gender-related rankings that can help parents find the car that will best protect their young driver.

5 Rules of the Road

Now that you’ve chosen the best car to protect your teen, you now must help them make good choices when they are behind the wheel. We discussed how behavior and equipment work in tandem to create safety when we wrote about Safety vs. Protection. In short, you cannot control the actions of others but you can control your own actions.

Good choices begin with the 5 Rules of the Road and we encourage parents to share these with your new teen driver:

Rules of the Road

  1. Drive the speed limit
  2. Don’t drive under the influence
  3. Wear seatbelts
  4. Don’t drive while tired
  5. Don’t drive while distracted (e.g., while using mobile devices)

But along with sharing the 5 Rules of the Road with your young driver, parents also need to put them into practice and be a good role model. Your kids will follow what you do.

Driving Deeper

Working together to create a world where everyone walks away from a crash.

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