Helping New Teen Drivers Avoid Risky Behavior

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Teen Driver

Oct. 15-21 is National Teen Driver Safety Week. SafeKids Washoe County shares some important tips for new drivers and their parents. 

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, ahead of all other types of injury, violence or disease. And a study from the General Motors Foundation surveyed teens and parents on six risky behaviors that are the leading cause of crashes for teen drivers.

Common risky behaviors include:

  • Not buckling up
  • Texting/distractions while driving
  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence (drinking/drugs)
  • Driving with teen passengers
  • Driving in the dark

Strategies for Parents

Teens were asked if they engaged in any of these behaviors, and the study found that teens take fewer risks when they have a formalized agreement about driving rules, and if their parents are good role models and follow the rules themselves.

  • Make an agreement with your new teen driver on the family driving rules
  • Download a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement
  • Be a role model for safe driving by following the rules yourself
  • Ensure your new teen driver gets at least 50 hours of supervised experience under a variety of driving conditions

7 Tips to Driving Safely

  1. Buckle up: Every person, every time
  2. Don’t drink and drive
  3. Limit the number of passengers in a car
  4. Don’t text and drive
  5. Follow the speed limit
  6. Only drive in the dark after extra practice
  7. Speak up when any driver is driving unsafely

INFOGRAPHIC


Dangerous Things Teens Do In Cars
Sometimes we all do risky things in cars. View this interactive infographic to help your teen avoid making poor choices while driving.

Buckling Up

  • Teen behavior: Seventy-eight percent of males and 88 percent of females reported they always wear a seat belt.
  • Family Agreement: Teens with a family rule about wearing seat belts were almost two times more likely to report always wearing their seat belt.
  • Parent behavior: Teens whose parents model positive behavior were more likely to report always wearing a seat belt versus teens whose parents did not always model positive behavior (85 percent versus 67 percent).

Speeding

  • Teen behavior: Sixty-three percent of teens reported at least sometimes driving 5 miles per hour over the speed limit and 25 percent reported at least sometimes driving 10 miles per hour over.
  • Family Agreement: Teens with a family rule about speeding were slightly less likely to report at least sometimes driving 5 miles per hour over the speed limit, and half as likely to report at least sometimes driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit than those without a rule.
  • Parent behavior: Teens whose parents model positive behavior were less likely to speed.

Driving While Intoxicated

  • Teen behavior: Eleven percent of teens surveyed reported they drive when they have been drinking or taking drugs.
  • Family Agreement: Teens with a family rule about driving while intoxicated were 10 times less likely to report driving while intoxicated than those without a rule.
  • Parent behavior: Teens who had seen their parents drink and drive were three times more likely to report also driving after drinking.

Distracted Driving

  • Teen behavior: Thirty-four percent of teens reported texting while the car was stopped (for example, at a red light) while 14 percent reported texting while driving. Twenty percent reported at least sometimes talking on the phone while driving.
  • Family Agreement: Teens with a family rule about texting while driving were four times less likely to text while driving. Teens with a rule about talking on the phone while driving were give times less likely to talk while driving than those without a rule.
  • Parent behavior: More than half of teens surveyed who had seen their parents text and drive admitted to texting while stopped at a red light, and 18 percent reported they had texted while driving.

Driving with Passengers

  • Teen behavior: Forty-five percent surveyed said their passenger talked, yelled, argued, or were simply loud; 22 percent said their passengers distracted them by “fooling around,” “messing around,” “being stupid,” wrestling or throwing things from the car windows; and 7.5 percent said their passengers intentionally distracted them by punching or tickling them, throwing things at them, or trying to grab the wheel or other vehicle controls.
  • Family Agreement: Teens with a rule against friends in the car were less likely to report at least sometimes driving with other teens in the car than those without a rule.

Driving in the Dark

  • Teen behavior: Three-quarters of teens surveyed reported at least sometimes driving after dark.
  • Family Agreement: Teens with a family rule against driving when it’s dark were less likely to do so than those without a rule (48 percent versus 81 percent).

Speak Up!

Encourage your child to speak up when they see someone practicing any unsafe activity while they’re driving. By stepping in and speaking up, they can stop someone from endangering themselves and other people.

Courtesy SafeKids Washoe County

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