“5 to Drive” Rules To Keep Teen Drivers Safe
October 23, 2015
It’s Teen Driver Safety Week and this year’s theme is “5 to Drive”, referring to five things teen drivers need to be aware of when they drive. The five things are practices by teens that are the most common cause of teen crashes or that increase the chances of greater injury or death in a crash. The five rules that teens must obey if they want to live through a trip on the road are:
- No alcohol
- No cell phone use while driving
- No driving or riding without wearing a seat belt.
- No speeding.
- No extra passengers.
We’ve written about most of these before in a column on the most common type of teen crash. The only thing not covered in that column was the extent to which alcohol and other drugs contribute to teen crashes.
While alcohol use by teens has gone down significantly over the past few years, it still plays a big role in teen crashes. Of all the teen drivers (ages 15-20) killed in 2013, 29 percent had a BAC level of .01 or higher. Among those killed with measurable amounts of alcohol in their system, 82 percent had a BAC level of .08 or higher. More and more research studies show that other drugs along with alcohol are also showing up among drivers involved in crashes.
Cell phones, whether they’re being used for phone calls, texting, or social networking, present a significant danger to drivers of all ages but are especially dangerous for inexperienced teen drivers. Studies show that even hands free cell phone use is distracting.
Among young people aged 16-20 killed in crashes in 2013, more than half (55%) weren’t wearing seat belts. Fifty percent of the teen drivers killed in 2013 were unrestrained. Among teen drivers who survived a fatal crash, 85 percent were wearing seat belts. Studies show that teens who might otherwise wear a seat belt when driving themselves, don’t wear seat belts when riding as a passenger of another teen driver.
Speeding is responsible for approximately one-third of all fatal crashes in the US every year. For drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in fatal crashes, 35 percent of the males and 21 percent of the females were speeding. Speeding reduces the time a driver has to react to an emergency situation ahead and it increases the crash forces. Many teens learn, to their horror, that it’s impossible to keep a speeding car on the road in a curve.
Cell phones aren’t the only distraction for teen drivers. According to a 2012 study by the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety, a teen driver’s risk of involvement in a deadly crash increases by 44 percent with one teen passenger in the vehicle. The risk doubles with two teen passengers and quadruples with three or more passengers. A teen driver is more likely to engage in risky behavior when one or more teen passengers are present.
Graduated driving laws were created to give teen drivers extra time to gain more driving experience by outlawing the five practices that contribute to so many teen crashes. However graduated driving laws for teens aren’t equal in all states. Parents should be aware of the laws in their state and, if their state’s graduated driving laws don’t go far enough to limit the distractions that teens face, parents can enact their own graduated driving license laws through the use of a teen driving contract.