It’s not something parents want to hear, but it’s a statistic that has to be shared. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States accounting for more than one in three fatalities in the age group. In fact, recent data shows that eight teens in the U.S. die every day from injuries sustained in car accidents.
But why? Why are teens so susceptible to car crashes? Unfortunately it’s not just one single factor but a variety that, when combined, contribute to the high number of teen accidents.
The first contributing factor is inexperience, and it’s the one thing that’s unavoidable. Teens are simply new drivers and less familiar with life behind the wheel. They’re going to make mistakes, and that’s just part of learning the ropes. Unfortunately, it often comes with a dent or two. But be patient and allow them to learn the skills. In time, the inexperience will develop into a safe, seasoned driver who knows the road.
The remaining contributors are less forgiving, and it starts with distractions. Cell phones, text messages, music and passengers create dangerous situations for new drivers. In fact, statistics show that the accident probability for teens increases dramatically according to the number of passengers in the car. And it goes without saying that texting is illegal for young drivers for good reason. No eyes on the road equals accidents for us all, and when combined with inexperience and other distractions, it is exceptionally dangerous for teenagers. As a parent, consider setting limits on how many friends can be in a car with your son or daughter and establish good communication regarding the use of cell phones. And, above all, set a good example for them by not texting while you drive, either!
The major remaining factors that contribute to teen accidents are more rebellious in nature. They include alcohol, drugs and a refusal to wear seat belts. This is where you as a parent can make the most difference. Talk with your child about the dangers of substances and how fatal they are when combined with car keys. And reinforce the need for seat belts even if they aren’t the most popular option. In these areas of behavior, parent-child communication is the biggest preventative key.
It’s not easy to turn the keys over to your child, especially when you look at the statistics. But if they are properly prepared, driving can be the most amazing adventure of their lives. Instead of stressing about whether or not they are safe on the road, do your best to help them establish good habits and skills. That way they’ll be far more likely to arrive safely back in the driveway after each trip.
And, just so you know. . .In case one of those dents does wind up on your child’s car, we at Waterloo Service will be here to help.