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Don't become a statistic: Safety tips for teen drivers

Getting a driver's license is a major milestone for both teens and parents. Yet, teen drivers have a greater chance of being involved in a crash than nearly anyone aside from the oldest adult drivers on the road.

In fact, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more teens die from motor vehicle crashes in the United States than any other cause. What can parents do to keep their kids safe behind the wheel? Below are several of the top contributing factors to teen crashes and some tips to keep your teen driver safe.

Which teens are at risk?

Teen drivers ages 16 to19 are three times more likely than their older counterparts to be involved in a fatal crash. Among this age group, the teens with the highest risk of crashes are:

  • Male drivers. Male drivers are two times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than female teen drivers.
  • Teens with other teen passengers. The presence of other teens in the vehicle tends to increase the chance of a crash, and the risk level increases with the number of other teens in the car.
  • Newly licensed. Teens who are in the first few months of obtaining their driver's license have a higher crash rate.

Factors putting teen drivers at risk

Several behaviors contribute to these increased incidents of teen crashes. Among these are:

  • Speeding and reckless driving. Teens are more likely to speed, street race, and engage in reckless driving activities. They're also more likely to lose control of a vehicle and end up in single-vehicle crashes.
  • Texting and cell phone use. Texting, surfing the web, and even talking on a phone are distractions that have been proven to cause crashes.
  • Drunk driving. Drinking and driving is a problem at all ages, but a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at any level in a teen dramatically raises the risk of a crash.
  • Seat belt use. Teenagers have the lowest rate of seat belt use than any other age group.

Tips to keep your teen driver safe

Here are several things that you can do to keep your teen driver safe:

  • Prohibit them from having other teen passengers in the car for at least the first six months.
  • Limit driving to daylight hours and continue to practice with an adult in the vehicle.
  • Have a safe driving contract in which they promise to always wear a seat belt, never use a cell phone, and never drink and drive a vehicle.
  • Investigate your state's Graduated Driver Licensing Programs (GDL) laws.

It is important to practice safe driving behaviors at all times. This means parents should follow the rules of the road, put down their cellphones and focus on the road to show their teens the importance of safe driving.

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