Teen Drivers: The Stats
Do you have teen drivers?
If you do, what have you done to help keep you child safe? Did you have the go through a driver education class? Did you drive with them a lot while they had a permit? Did you talk to them about not texting and driving? Do you only allow them to drive certain times or with certain friends? Do you buckle up YOUR seat belt?
Yes, your seat belt. Because no matter what they say or how much it seems they don’t listen to you anyway, they still pick up habits from you.
Half of all teen driver fatalities in 2012 were not wearing a seat belt. HALF!
While it seems in every other age range, seat belt use is up. Too many teens are not wearing their seat belts.
How big of a problem is it?
More teens are dying from motor vehicle crashes than any other cause of death, about 2,500 each year.
While studies have pointed to several contributing factors such as older, smaller vehicles; texting and distractions from peers one thing is for sure: teens are not buckling up like they should. Remember half of those fatalities were not wearing a seat belt.
Fatalities are split almost equally between teen drivers (56 percent) and passengers (44 percent). One in four teens said they don’t use a seat belt on every ride.
Safe Kids Worldwide recently surveyed 1,000 teens (with monetary help from the General Motors Foundation) to find out why some teens don’t buckle up. The top reasons they gave for not buckling up were:
- they forgot or it was not a habit (34 percent)
- they were not going far (16 percent)
- the seat belt was not comfortable (11 percent)
- asked why other teens don’t buckle up, one in three teens (33 percent) said that going to a party was a reason.
“No one starts their day anticipating that they’re going to get into a car crash. But we all know that it only takes one time to be riding in a vehicle without buckling up for a life to be changed forever,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “This survey illustrates that we must be even more vigilant in our efforts to reach teens with messages that will resonate so they understand the importance of buckling up every ride, every time.”
What else is the problem causing dangerous teen driving?
The organization also set out to learn more about teens’ behavior in cars, both drivers and passengers.
One such behavior we’ve all been challenged with at one time or another: distracted driving. The survey reports 39% of teens said they have ridden with a teen driver who was texting, and 95 percent said they think other teens have ridden with drivers who were texting. This is an interesting correlation.
Teens who don’t always use seat belts are also more likely to report that they text while driving than those who say they wear a seat belt every time. Where do they learn this behavior? Often times, their parents — remember I said you are still influencing them (whether they’d admit it or not).
More than half of teens said they have seen a parent talking on the phone while driving, and 28 percent have been riding in a car with a parent who was texting.
As for their fellow teen passengers, 49% of them said they had felt concerned for their own safety when driving with their friend. And get this 31% also admit to feeling unsafe with a parent driving. It is not surprising that 49 percent of teens in the survey reported feeling concerned for their safety when riding with a teen driver and 31 percent of teens said they have felt unsafe with a parent driving.
What can you do to help keep your teen driver safe?
Remember those questions way back up at the top? Those are the things you can do. But so you don’t have to scroll all the way back up there, here is the summary:
- Make sure everyone in the car buckles up on every ride, every time.
- Be a role model in all your driving habits, that means no more texting and driving. It’s illegal in many states anyway. Save your phone calls for later, even if you are hands free, you are giving part of your attention to the conversation which is taking attention away from the road.
- Talk to teens and kids about ways to speak up if a driver of any age isn’t driving safely.
Have you always been a model of buckling up and not texting? Share your comments below.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
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