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Youth and Young Adult Drivers

DS_icons_Youth.pngVehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people 15 to 20 years of age.

While young people constitute 6.7 percent of the total driving population, they’re involved in 15 percent of all fatal crashes. Two out of five deaths among U.S. teens result from motor vehicle crashes.

Research shows which behaviors contribute to teen-related crashes. Inexperience and immaturity combined with speed, drinking and driving, not wearing seat belts, distracted driving — cell phone use, loud music, other teen passengers, and others — drowsy driving, and nighttime driving use aggravate this problem.

 

The Issue in the Kansas City Region

Young drivers in the 15–24 age group represent the highest number of crash fatalities and disabling injuries. Young drivers tend to be overrepresented in crashes because they lack experience and judgment in difficult driving situations, and may be more prone to distraction from phones, vehicle controls (radio, CD player, and climate control) and young passengers.

Based on a five-year average between 2008–2012, young drivers and their passengers accounted for 40 percent of all fatalities and serious injuries in our region and yet this age demographic only makes up 16 percent of those of legal driving age.

 

What you can do as a parent:

  • Try to be a good example; kids learn what they live.

  • Supervise your teen’s driving time. Spend time in the car with your teen behind the wheel throughout the first year of driving.

  • Limit the number of passengers in the car. More friends can mean more distractions. 

  • Require safety-belt use for your teen and all passengers. 

  • Consider requiring your teen to contribute to the cost of the family car. Research shows that teens that pay for a portion of the insurance and maintenance of a car are more likely to be safe drivers. 

  • Driving is a privilege and not a right. As a parent of a teen driver, you have a responsibility to teach your child how to safely and appropriately operate a vehicle.

 

What you can do as a beginning driver

  • Wear your seat belt and make sure your passengers wear them, too. Safety belts and air bags are designed to spread the force of impact and prevent you from colliding with your vehicle’s interior. Always buckle up.

  • Obey speed limits.

  • Concentrate. Eating, drinking, combing your hair, putting on makeup, changing radio stations and using cell phone take your mind off driving and your hands off the wheel!

  • Cell phones are dangerous distractions. Never text while driving. Studies have shown that talking on the phone and driving diverts your attention from the road. Pull off the road to talk on your phone in a well-lit, public place.

  • Driving with your radio or CD player cranked way up can prevent you from hearing emergency vehicle sirens and the horns of other drivers who may be trying to warn you.
  • Loose articles, like drinks, can fall beneath your brake or gas pedals. Remove or secure loose items to avoid disaster.
  • Hill jumping can be deadly. In an airborne vehicle, you have zero control. Drag racing can be just as fatal.
  • Allow plenty of time to get where you’re going so you don’t have to rush.
  • Friends can be distracting, if they are laughing, singing, arguing or horsing around while you’re driving.
  • Getting your driver’s license is a symbol of freedom and independence. With that license comes responsibility. To use it safely requires good training, good skills, and good judgment.

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