The day a teenager gets his or her license is usually cause for celebration. However, for others on the road, it is not as exciting.
Teenagers are the highest-risk drivers, and this is due to multiple reasons. Their involvement in car wrecks often results in property damage and injuries. Fortunately, there are things that the state and parents can do to mitigate this risk.
Common risk factors
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrecks caused by teenagers result in billions of dollars in costs related to work loss and medical care every year. Newly licensed teens are at higher risk of crashing, as are males and teens driving with young adult passengers.
Inexperience is a big risk factor, as teens have not spent that much time behind a wheel or in various driving conditions. Other factors involved include:
- Distracted driving
- Weekend and nighttime driving
- Drug or alcohol use
Teenagers are also at higher risk of nonfatal and fatal injuries due to the fact that they use seat belts less than other age groups.
Strategies for prevention
Many of the wrecks caused by teen drivers are preventable, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discusses two strategies that reduce the risk of wrecks. One strategy they suggest using is graduated driver licensing programs, which every state has. These programs restrict certain driving behaviors, and they allow for more freedom as the teens advance in age and experience.
The second strategy that can begin way before a teenager gets behind the wheel is parent demonstration and involvement. From the time the child is an early age, a parent should model good driving behavior, such as following traffic laws and avoiding distractions. When teens begin to drive, parents should ride with them and guide their driving, especially in more challenging conditions and situations. Just letting them drive more is beneficial, as this helps them gain experience and confidence.