Getting a license is a milestone that most teenagers are excited to reach, but parents and guardians often have reservations. Let’s explore reasons for higher rates and justified parental concerns regarding your new teen driver. We’ll also discuss ways you as the parent or guardian can set expectations and communicate the responsibilities associated with this exciting new life goal for your teen.
There is a reason why rates are exceptionally high for a newly licensed teen driver. This rate increase is a cue to make sure your teen is making responsible decisions. Safety is the number one concern for parents or guardians of a new driver. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among teens aged 16–19 than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers in this age group are nearly three times as likely as drivers aged 20 or older to be in a fatal crash.
One of the largest factors for this is simply inexperience. The CDC states that teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate or not be able to recognize dangerous situations. Teens are also more likely than adults to make critical decision errors that can lead to serious crashes. Other contributing factors that increase risks to teen drivers are; not choosing to wear a seatbelt, speeding, distracted driving and alcohol use. Results from the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) Controlled Intersection study from 2016-2019 indicate that seat belt use amongst teens and young adults (16-24 years of age) was considerably lower than any other age group.
Results from the 2019 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed that, among U.S. high school students who drove, 39.0% texted or e-mailed while driving at least once during the 30 days before the survey. As we know, distracted driving negatively affects driving performance, especially for inexperienced drivers. The CDC has also found that teens are more likely to speed and tend to allow shorter headways between vehicles contributing to the likelihood of an accident.
The biggest factor in preventing crashes is YOU, participation from the parents or guardians, as your teen learns to drive is key. Practice what you preach to your teen and understand that driving is a complex skill that takes time to be learned well. Limit driving under high-risk conditions and make sure to educate your teen on the leading causes of teen crashes and injuries.
Parents Are the Key, a campaign from the CDC, helps parents keep teen drivers safe on the road. As a part of this campaign they have designed a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement to make it easier for you to have the conversation with your teen. This crucial agreement will give you the tools to talk about your rules of the road, why they are important, and set clear expectations in writing about consequences for breaking them.
Above all make sure to communicate and use this as a great teachable moment so they can take advantage of the experience you have as a driver.
P.O. Box 249
123 N. Main St.
Crosby, ND 58730