Teens’ Biggest Dangers
Teaching Your Teen to Drive
Newly licensed teens crash much more often than older, more experienced drivers. These are the circumstances that are the most common trouble areas for young drivers.
Nebraska crash and observation data consistently reveals that teens buckle up far less than adults. The rate of belt use for teens is 10% to 15% lower than that of adults. Of young people in Nebraska aged 15-20 who were fatally injured in crashes between 2007 and 2011, 81 percent were not wearing seatbelts. Whether sitting in the front or back of a car, buckle up every trip and remind other passengers to buckle up too. It could save their lives, and yours. Please visit NHTSA’s website for more information https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts
Drugs and alcohol
Teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population. This is despite the fact they cannot legally purchase or publicly possess alcohol in any state. When alcohol is added to the inexperience of teen drivers, the results can be deadly. In 2016, nearly 20 percent of teenagers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. Marijuana is the drug that’s most commonly found in the blood of drivers who have been in a car crash. It is important to enforce a zero-tolerance policy at home. If your teen uses any alcohol or drugs, they cannot drive, nor should they ride with anyone who has been drinking or using drugs — in any amount.
As teens get older their bedtimes get later, but waking times do not tend to change. From age 13 to 19, nightly sleep is reduced by 40–50 minutes. Teen drivers who sleep less than 8 hours a night are 33 percent more likely to crash than teens who get more than 8 hours of sleep. This lack of sleep results in depressive moods, more risk-taking behaviors, and lower grades. It further reduces a person’s ability to process information, be attentive, and have good reflexes, which are all crucial to driving skills. Studies have shown that being awake for 18 hours has a similar impact to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08.
A driver’s primary responsibility when behind the wheel is to focus on the act of driving. Any behavior that distracts from that activity increases the risk of a collision. In this age of electronic communication, the dangers of distractions have increased significantly. Use of electronic devices for any purpose, to send or receive communications, to surf the web, to view images, video, or anything at all, should absolutely be avoided.
Just as it takes years to perfect any skill — athletic, artistic, or otherwise — it also takes years to be a truly good driver. Until teens are much more experienced, they run a greater risk of crashing, being hurt, and potentially dying. A driver’s license makes them a driver. Experience makes them good drivers.
For teens, the most severe crashes occur at night and on weekends. Night driving is challenging for all drivers, but novice drivers do not have the experience to anticipate and react when visibility is reduced. When teens drive at night, it is more often with a lack of adult supervision, with other teen passengers, and at higher speeds — all of which increase risk.