Clear the sidewalks, [insert your teenagers name here] got their license! It’s National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 15 – 21), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is encouraging parents to talk to their teens about driving safety.

It used to be a common thing to razz new drivers with some harmless kidding about their driving skills. Unfortunately, according to the NHTSA, after years of decline, teen driving crashes and fatalities are on the rise, and that’s nothing to joke about.

Be Proactive with Your Teen

As a responsible adult, it’s important to teach new drivers essential driving skills so they can get behind the wheel with confidence and knowledge on their side. According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and National Safety Council (NSC) research, more US teens are killed by car crashes than anything else and they're three times more likely to be involved in a crash compared to a more experience driver.

Seat Belts Save Lives

One of the top priorities to talk to your teen about should be buckling up every time, in every seat. NHTSA data shows that over 50 percent of teen drivers killed in car crashes were unbelted in 2016, as were more than 60 percent of teen passengers who perished. In crashes involving teen drivers when the driver wasn’t buckled, 84 percent of their passengers weren’t, either.

To help encourage teens and their families to buckle up, the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) has teamed up with the NHTSA and NSC to once again invite teens to the “Seat Belts Save Challenge,” which is designed to encourage increased seat belt use among teens.

Each year, these organizations invite high schools nationwide to develop a local campaign to increase seat belt use. Results are documented by unannounced belt checks before and after a school’s campaign. The challenge coincides with the beginning of National Teen Driver Safety week, and all schools entered in the challenge must complete their campaigns by November 15. There are three categories: best overall campaign, greatest improvement in seat belt usage, and highest seat belt use rate. Winning schools receive a prize of $1,500.

Other Important Lessons

learning to driveAll topics are important when it comes to keeping your teen drivers safe. Remember to lead by example, and make sure they know what the consequences of their actions could be.

NHTSA recommends talking to teens about:

  • No drinking and driving, or driving under the influence of any drug.
  • No distractions. Focus on the task of driving 100 percent.
  • No speeding. Greater speed equals less reaction time, especially for drivers with less experience.
  • Passengers are a distraction. Know your state’s restrictions before hitting the road.
The findings of a new survey from Hum by Verizon were released to help raise awareness of teen driver safety as well. One maybe-not-so-surprising thing they found is that teen drivers may be overconfident behind the wheel. More than half of teens surveyed responded that they're just as good at driving as their parent or guardian, yet 72 percent stated feeling unsafe on the road.
Other findings from the survey include:
  • More than half of teen drivers wish they learned more about driving safely on ice, snow, or wet roads.
  • Almost half of teen drivers wish they had learned to change a tire.
  • 44 percent wish they knew how to jump start a battery.
  • 34 percent wish they'd learned more about handling distractions while driving.

The Bottom Line

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