Coalition Pushes for Safer Driving Habits Among Teens

A teenage girl with shoulder-length brown hair is seated in the driver's seat of a white car, focused on driving.

A group of nonprofits is working to transform the "100 Deadliest Days" from Memorial Day to Labor Day into the "100 Safest Days" for the first time. This initiative sheds light on the important role parents play in influencing the way their teens drive. It also hopes to foster safer teen driving habits and reduce serious and fatal car accidents.

Nonprofits come together to help prevent teen car accidents

The initiative is led by We Save Lives and the National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF). We Save Lives focuses on preventing dangerous driving behaviors and saving lives through realistic solutions and programs, education, advocacy, and partnerships. Their primary concerns are the three D's: drunk, drugged, and distracted driving. Meanwhile, the NRSF has spent over 60 years dedicated to reducing crashes, deaths, and injuries on highways by promoting safe driving behaviors and raising public awareness.

Additionally, Impact Teen Drivers plays a crucial role in this initiative. This organization develops, promotes, and facilitates evidence-based education to prevent car crashes. Their efforts particularly target reckless and distracted driving and encourage safe driving practices among young drivers. Many other groups are involved in this initiative, including Students Against Destructive Decisions and Teens in the Driver Seat.

Why are safer driving habits among teens so important?

To help get the point across about safer driving habits among teens, safety advocates point out alarming statistics:

  • From 2012 to 2021, 7,316 people died in teen driver-related crashes during the summer months, averaging 812 deaths per year. This accounts for nearly half of all fatalities in teen driver crashes throughout the entire year.
  • Young drivers are disproportionately involved in crashes compared to adult drivers. In 2021, drivers aged 20 and younger represented 5.1% of licensed drivers in the U.S. but accounted for 8.5% of drivers in fatal crashes and 12.6% of drivers in all crashes, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Distracted driving is responsible for 60% of teen crashes today.

Candace Lightner is the founder and president of We Save Lives and a longtime safety advocate. Through this initiative, she stresses the importance of motivating teen drivers and their parents to practice safer driving habits throughout the summer, not just at the start of the campaign.

"We also need to emphasize the life-saving importance of speaking up and intervening when they see anyone, including their parents, engage in unsafe driving. We encourage everyone to sign The Courage to Intervene promise as just one of the many solutions we'll be highlighting," said Lightner.

The Courage to Intervene promise includes the following sayings:

"I will stop my friends and loved ones from driving buzzed, drunk, or drugged.
I will not ride with them if they are under any kind of influence, and I will encourage others to do the same.
I will stop my friends from using their cell phones while driving.
I will not risk my life to keep others from killing themselves or someone else.
I will have the Courage to Intervene
Because I care . . ."

What safer driving habits should teen drivers practice?

Teen drivers can take several steps to stay safe on the road during the summer months:

  • Avoid distractions: Keep your focus on the road. Avoid using your phone, eating, or engaging in other activities that can distract you from driving.
  • Follow speed limits: Always adhere to posted speed limits and adjust your speed according to road conditions.
  • Wear seat belts: Make sure you and all passengers always wear seat belts. Seat belts significantly reduce the risk of injury in a crash.
  • Limit night driving: Driving at night can be more challenging due to reduced visibility. If possible, limit driving during nighttime hours.
  • Avoid driving under the influence: Never drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any substances that can impair your judgment and reaction time.
  • Plan ahead: Before hitting the road, plan your route and allow extra time to reach your destination.
  • Drive defensively: Stay aware of other drivers and anticipate potential hazards.
  • Maintain a safe following distance: Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you and be prepared to react to sudden changes in traffic.
  • Follow traffic laws: Obey all traffic signals, stop signs, and road markings.
  • Limit passengers: Multiple passengers can be distracting and increase the likelihood of risky behavior. Limit the number of passengers, especially other teens.

Additionally, parents can actively participate in their teen's driving education. This involvement can include enrolling them in a reputable driver's education program, supervising their practice driving sessions, and providing constructive feedback. Parents should regularly discuss driving experiences, both positive and negative, to help teens learn from their mistakes and successes.

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