Teen Passengers
Nighttime Driving
Bad Weather
High Speeds

Teen Passengers

Crash risks are nearly double with one passenger and increase even more with each additional passenger. This is true for all teens, even those who are responsible and trustworthy.

Recommendation

Initially, limit your teen to NO teen passengers, and gradually increase passenger privileges as your teen gains more driving experience.

Nighttime Driving

The most severe teen crashes occur at night. Night driving is more dangerous because of limited visibility, fatigue, and drinking drivers on the road.

With a new license, young teens have night driving restrictions that vary by state. Many serious teen driver crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight.

Recommendation

Set an early evening restriction for your teen’s unsupervised driving – sundown during the first months with a license and gradually later as your teen gains more driving experience.

Bad Weather

Bad weather makes driving more dangerous for all drivers. However, teen drivers do not have enough experience to react safely in bad weather.

Recommendation

Limit your teen’s driving in bad weather. Allow unsupervised driving only in good weather during the first months with a license and gradually allow unsupervised driving in more severe weather as your teen gains more experience.

High Speeds and High Speed Roads

As speed increases, vehicles respond more quickly to steering and more slowly to braking. Inexperienced drivers may make abrupt changes, which can make the vehicle go out of control. It takes time to learn how to handle a vehicle at high speeds. High-speed crashes have higher crash forces and are more likely to result in severe injuries.

Recommendation

Limit your teen’s unsupervised driving to familiar, lower speed roads for the initial months of licensure, and gradually allow unsupervised driving on higher speed roads as your teen gains more experience.

Other Factors

Driving Experience
Risky Driving Behavior
Lack of Safety Belt Use
Alcohol and Drugs
Unsafe Vehicles

Inexperience is the single most important risk factor for teen crashes. Teens show the greatest improvement in safety within the first year and several thousand miles of independent driving – but keep improving for years.

Recommendation

Limit driving under high risk conditions until your teen has a great deal of independent driving experience under low risk conditions.

Teenagers engage in more risky driving behavior, including distracted driving, than any other age group. Teens with strict restrictions engage in less risky driving behavior.

Recommendation

Frequently emphasize the requirement that your teen follow all traffic laws and set strict limits on high-risk driving conditions.

stoplight

In addition to establishing a Checkpoints Parent-Teen Driving Agreement, consider requiring your teen to install one of the many cell phone apps that restrict usage while the vehicle is moving, and/or automatically send “do not disturb” messages to others while your teen is driving.

Safety belts reduce the risk of serious injury in a crash by 45%. Wearing safety belts is required by law; however, teens wear safety belts less than any other age group.

Recommendation

Frequently emphasize the requirement that your teen and their passengers always wear their safety belts.

Any amount of alcohol or drugs produces impairment in teen drivers – and is illegal. This combination is deadly.

Recommendation

Ban your teen from driving after using alcohol or other substances and from riding with anyone who has used alcohol or other substances.

Your teen has the greatest chance of a crash of anyone in the family, so have your teen drive the safest vehicle available, and that it is well-maintained with safe tires.

Recommendation

Have your teen drive a mid- to full-size vehicle with a small engine and airbags. Parents should not let their teens get their “own” vehicles until they gain a lot more unsupervised driving experience.

Aged, worn, or split tires with low tread depth are among conditions that cause thousands of injuries and deaths each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tire problems account for 35 percent of accidents where a vehicle failure was the cause of the crash. (NHTSA, September 2017)

Myths vs Facts

Responsible Teen Myth

Myth

My teen is responsible and would not drive dangerously, so is not at risk.

Fact

All teen drivers are at higher risk because they lack driving experience and judgment that only comes with time and driving.

Experienced Driver Myth

Myth

My teen had plenty of practice driving before they got their license so is not at risk.

Fact

Driver education and practice driving are only the beginning of learning to drive – becoming a safe driver, just like any skill takes time, practice and experience.

Driving with a Friend

Myth

It would be safer if my teen had a friend in the car, in case something happens.

Fact

Crash risks are nearly double with one passenger and increase even more with each additional passenger. Even “responsible” friends in the car can be distracting to a teen driver.

Licensing Laws

Myth

The licensing requirements and driving laws for teens (also known as Graduated Driver Licensing) is sufficient to protect teen drivers.

Fact

Graduated Driver Licensing is good, but is just a MINIMUM. Effective parent-imposed restrictions that go beyond the laws, increase teen safety.

Driving with Siblings

Myth

Sibling passengers are safer than other young passengers.

Fact

All young passengers are potentially distracting and at risk with a new driver – siblings are not safer.

Car Ownership

Myth

By having a car, my teen will learn to take responsibility.

Fact

Teens with their own vehicles are at greater risk because they drive more and have fewer restrictions placed on them.

Other Parents

Myth

Other parents do not set limits on their teens’ driving.

Fact

Nearly all parents DO set limits, and teens appreciate knowing exactly what is expected of them. The stronger the limits, the better the safety outcomes.

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