Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury and death among teenagers every year, and crash deaths are even higher during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Young drivers, ages 16 to 20, are more likely to crash due to their inexperience. The main causes for teen crashes include driver error, speeding, passengers and distractions.
Since parents are the most important influence on their teens when it comes to risky behaviors, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is offering some safety tips to parents who have teen drivers:
• No texting and driving. In 2008 nearly 6,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than 500,000 people were injured. Data from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Research, Planning and Development Division shows that 1,040 traffic crashes occurred due to cell phone usage in 2011. Talk to your teen about turning off the phone while driving. If they need to make an emergency call, encourage them to pull over, turn off their engines and then make the call.
“It is against the law in Tennessee for a driver 18 years and younger to be on a cell phone,” said Purnima Unni, Injury Prevention Coordinator at Children’s Hospital. “Not many parents or teens are aware of this. It’s illegal for anyone, adults or teens, to type or read a text message while driving.”
• Limit passengers. The risk of fatal teen crashes increases with every additional passenger. Having more than one passenger in the car increases the risk of death by 50 percent.
• Wear seat belts. Seat belts save lives. Everyone in the car needs to buckle up.
• Underage drinking and drug use is illegal. Drinking alcohol or taking drugs can cost you your license – or even your life.
Parents should not only talk with their teen drivers about safe driving habits, but should also be good role models on the road, remembering that actions are just as important as words.
For more information contact Purnima Unni, Injury Prevention Coordinator at [email protected] or visit http://www.cdc.gov/features/roadsafety/, http://distraction.gov/ and https://www.drivingskillsforlife.com/index.php.
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