Car wrecks are the leading cause of death for people 15 to 20 years of age. While these 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.
An astounding 65 percent of teen passenger deaths occur when another teenager is driving. Two out of three teenagers killed are males. The main cause of fatal crashes is driver error primarily caused by inexperience, risk taking and immaturity.
The Issue in the Kansas City Region
Jackson County had the second highest frequency of traffic crashes involving drivers under 21 years of age in the state of Missouri in 2002. In 2003, there were 353,288 licensed drivers between the ages of 14 and 24 in Kansas, which composed 18 percent of the licensed driving population in the State. Specific county data for Kansas is currently unavailable.
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 lots of 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 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 who 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 motor vehicle.
What You Can Do as a Beginning Driver
- Wear your seat belt and make sure your friends 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 talking on a cell phone take your mind off driving and your hands off the wheel – a deadly combination!
- Cell phones are convenient but dangerous distractions. Talking and driving can divert your attention from the road. Pull off the road to talk on your phone, but stick to well-lit, public places.
- 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 really distracting, especially 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. As a driver, you’re in control of several tons of steel. To use it safely requires good training, good skills, and good judgment.