Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In 2009, about 3,000 teens in the United States ages 15 to 19 were killed, and in 2008 more than 350,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in vehicle crashes.
Newly licensed drivers and their parents are encouraged to follow this road map of safe driving tips compiled by Northridge Hospital’s Pediatric Medical Center.
Go the Extra Mile
Parents, you have the power to help keep your new driver safe.
- Discuss rules of the road and consequences for breaking them.
- Practice driving as often as you can with your new driver.
- Ensure new drivers and all passengers wear seatbelts.
- Have teens check in with you prior to every trip to discuss the destination, route and time expected home.
Start modeling good driving behaviors TODAY.
Steer Clear of Risk Factors
Among all age groups, teen drivers are at the greatest risk. Per mile driven, teen drivers are four times more likely than adult drivers to crash. Factors that contribute to teen crashes and injuries:
- Driver Inexperience
Crash rates are highest during the first year a teen has a license.
- Driving Privileges
The Center for Disease Control recommends a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system, which is proven to prevent crashes and save lives. The State of California has a GDL that helps new drivers gain experience under low risk conditions by granting driving privileges (such as driving at night or driving with passengers) in stages.
Graduated Driver License 3-Stage System:
- Learner’s permit: 15½-years-old as the minimum age. Mandatory holding period of at least six months.
- Provisional license – must be accompanied by a licensed driver 25 years of age or older
when: Driving at night between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the first 12 months.
Transporting passengers under 20 years of age at any time, for the first 12 months.
- Full license
May be granted after the driver successfully undergoes the first two steps for the proper amount of time.
California’s GDL Also:
- Prohibits cell phone use (talking and texting) for young drivers.
- Allows young drivers to be ticketed if they or their passengers are not wearing seat belts.
- Vigorously enforces a zero tolerance law making it illegal for a person under the age of 21 to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood.
- Driving with teen passengers: Crash risk goes up when teens drive with other teens in the car. The risk increases with each additional passenger.
- Nighttime driving: For all ages, fatal crashes are more likely to occur at night, but the risk is highest for teens.
- Not wearing seat belts: Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use.
- Distracted driving: Distractions – such as talking or texting on cell phones, eating or playing with the radio or iPod – increase teen drivers’ risk of a crash.
In one year alone, crash-related injuries and deaths among teens ages 15 to 19 cost $14 billion in medical care and productivity losses.
Courtesy of the Pediatric Medical Center