October 20-26 is National Teen Driver Safety Week. In conjunction with the safety initiatives of the week, the National Safety Council has released a list of things for parents to be aware of in helping keep their teen drivers safe. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. Fatalities among teens in car crashes have dropped in recent years, but the problem remains widespread. The NSC is hoping to help parents understand the role they play in helping young drivers learn safe driving practices.
A study conducted by the Allstate Foundation showed that 80 percent of teens consider their parents as the most influential people regarding their driving habits. That fact contributes to the importance of the theme of National Teen Driver Safety Week this year - shared expectations for parents and teens for driving. Parents need to know what factors commonly contributed to dangerous driving in teens. Things like the presence of one or more teenaged passengers or proper seat belt use should be discussed with teens before they get behind the wheel.
Illinois graduated licensing laws restrict the passengers who can ride with drivers aged 16 or 17. They are limited to one passenger under the age of 20, excepting siblings, stepsiblings, children and stepchildren of the driver. This restriction lasts throughout the first year of having a license, during which the rate of accidents is at its highest. According to the NSC, the presence of a teen passenger raises the fatal crash risk by 44 percent. Also, fewer than half of the teens killed in car accidents are wearing seat belts. The law is not enough to ensure that teens are adopting safe driving habits. Parents need to encourage the right behaviors to keep their children safe.
Source: Chicago Business Journal, "National Safety Council's grim facts about teen drivers," by Lewis Lazare, 17 October 2013