May is the peak of both prom and graduation seasons, making it a good time to focus on keeping teenage drivers safe. With this in mind, the National Safety Council is encouraging parents of teen drivers to take an active role in promoting safety. The organization also warns that inexperience — not distraction — is the biggest danger facing young drivers.
Results of a National Safety Council Survey
A recent National Safety Council (NSC) survey found that teen drivers and their parents are well aware of the risks associated with distracted driving. However, only 31% of adults and 28% of teens identified inexperience as the biggest threat to their safety on the road.
Data shows the NSC that inexperience is, in fact, the leading cause of teen car crashes. This shouldn't come as a surprise when you think about it. Mistakes are bound to be made when anybody is starting a new activity. There's a reason why most of us were taught that "practice makes perfect."
Now that we are reaching the height of prom and graduation season, the NSC is urging parents to stay involved with their teen drivers. The council also wants parents to understand how important it is to build driving experience.
Here are some statistics collected by the NSC and their DriveitHOME™ initiative:
- The NSC poll revealed that 60% of teens describe driving as "somewhat" or "very" stressful.
- Two million teens under 18 are in the first year of driving, and, each year, drivers under 18 are involved in 900,000 crashes.
- 40% of car crashes happen at night.
- 16- to 19-year-old drivers are statistically the most likely to be involved in a fatal auto accident, making car crashes the number one killer of teens.
Tips for Helping Your Teen Drivers
The NSC wants to help parents assume a more active role with their teen drivers. Helping their teen gain experience will allow them to be more confident and less stressed behind the wheel, which will lead them to practice safer driving habits.
In fact, the NSC has set up a website to help parents accomplish these things. DriveitHOME.org is a website with a number of free and helpful resources and tips parents can use.
Here are some of the tips they suggest for parents of teen drivers:
- Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way for a teen to build the experience necessary to become a safer driver is practice with you riding along with them. The NSC recommends you practice with your teen for 30 minutes a week for a full year after they get their license.
- Stay Involved, Set Rules, and Don't Stop Teaching
Getting their driver's license is the first step, not the end of the road. Make sure you are communicating with your teen about driving in general, their own habits, and ways to improve. Driving is a privilege, so it's important to set rules that allow your teen to earn increased responsibility.
- Set a Good Example
According to the NSC survey, 95% of parents who drive distracted have done so with their teens in the car. It's natural for kids to learn from observing their parents, so you can promote safety by practicing what you preach. Practicing proper driving and following the rules of the road can go a long way in influencing their own driving habits.
The Bottom Line
The National Safety Council believes that staying involved is the most important thing you can do for your new teen driver. Through your advice, guidance, and lots of practice, your teen driver can learn to be safe and responsible behind the wheel.
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