Teaching Teen Drivers Road Safety
Teen drivers provide a lot of salvage cars. According to the Center for Disease Control, drivers aged 16-19 are three times more likely to be in a fatal crash.
Most of the things that cause young drivers to be hurt or killed are avoidable.Of the eight major causes of accidents--drowsiness, recklessness, under the influence, distractions, lack of seat belts, night driving, teens riding with teen drivers, and inexperience--only one of these is immediately unavoidable, which is inexperience.
To curtail this, Graduated Driver Licensing is a program that lets teens ease into driving skills with fewer risk situations. In Arizona, this means that teens have to avoid driving between midnight and 5am, avoid driving with more than one person who is under the age of 18, and they must complete 30 hours of supervised driving (10 at night) with a licensed adult driver.
The avoidable risks can be managed if parents and teens are willing to work together. In order for a teen to get a driver’s license, the parent must sign an affidavit of responsibility in the event of neglect or wilful misconduct on the part of the driving teen. There are some risks which teens can be taught to avoid. Teens who are drowsy, distracted, or under the influence can be taught to call for an Uber or Lyft ride. This is an economical alternative to a fatal accident and should be encouraged at a young age.Since teens are developing lifelong driving habits, the habit of ‘not’ driving when the situation warrants it is a valuable learning experience that cannot be overemphasized.
An interesting side note: Arizona drivers under the age of 21 hold a vertical driver’s license. This was intended to make it easy for bartenders to see if a driver was under the legal drinking limit. It was illegal to sell alcohol to anyone with a vertical driver’s license, regardless of their age. The licenses expire 30 days after the holder’s 21st birthday. The problem was, of course, that other states have vertical driver’s licenses, and it was illegal for vendors to sell alcohol to them, regardless of their age. Last year, Governor Ducey had to sign emergency legislation, making it lawful for vendors to sell to those with a vertical license as long as they are 21.
Riding with a seat belt is a habit we can all help one another with all the time. It’s easy to forget, and the simplest way is for the driver to make sure all his passengers are wearing one before he starts the car.
When one thinks of distracted driving, the use of a cellphone comes to mind first. Changing the radio station, eating, applying makeup, and other activities should also be avoided. The quirky thing about teens is that they will do as we do, not as we say. Being a good role model is one of the best lessons we can offer our teens.
Reckless driving is a combination of intoxicating factors--hormones, the new power of driving, and freedom. Once again, if the parent can call upon the teen to exercise judgement, it is a habit the teen will be able to fall back on for a lifetime of driving.
Driving can be fraught with hazards, but the freedom that comes to us when our children are finally old enough to drive is tremendous. With just a little effort and good role modelling, we can look forward to our teen driving with anticipation rather than dread.