Car accidents are the leading cause of death for young Americans between age 16 and 20, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2012, 2,055 teen drivers were involved in fatal accidents nationwide, and 855 of those drivers were killed. Here in Missouri, 136 people were killed and over 12,800 were injured in crashes involving teen drivers, according to the Highway Patrol.
Experts say teens are more likely to be involved in injury accidents because of several behaviors that are common in young drivers, including inexperience combined with speed; distracted driving (involving cell phone use, passengers, etc.); inexperience combined with nighttime driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
What can parents do to keep their teens safe on Missouri roads? Insisting on seat belt use is a basic - yet essential - place to start. "Nearly eight out of ten teens killed in Missouri vehicle crashes over the last three years weren't buckled up," Leanna Depue, chair of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety's executive committee, told the Missouri Department of Transportation. Teens were also involved in almost 20 percent of fatal and serious injury crashes statewide over the last three years.
National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 19 -25) is approaching. In that spirit, our car accident lawyers would like to share a few tips to help parents promote safe, responsible driving.
Encouraging safety: Tips for parents of teen drivers
- Be clear and firm about your expectations. Make sure your teen drivers understand what the rules are - and what consequences they face, should those rules be broken. Also, take some time to explain why those rules are in place. Many parents find a teen driving contract is a useful tool, as it gives you the opportunity to actually spell out the rules in writing. A teen driving contract can establish clear boundaries related to seat belts, cell phone use, curfew, passengers and alcohol or drug use.
- Be responsive and respectful. When you discuss safe driving with your teen, make sure he or she understand that "safe" is the operative word. Teens are more likely to honor boundaries when they understand you're trying to keep them safe, not control them. Also, remember to listen when your teens have questions. If you want them to take your concerns seriously, extend them the same courtesy.