National Teen Driver Safety Week, a product of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is upon us. Specifically, the awareness initialtive is held October 14-20. I actually am impressed with this initiative – I have never seen one quite like it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed a mult-tiered system in an effort to reduce teen deaths caused by car accidents. According to statistics, teen drivers ages 15-20 years old are the most vulnerable on our roadways. In fact, teen drivers are involved in three times more car accidents than any other driver. NHTSA is asking parents to join forces to help keep our teens safe. The roadway safety initiative focuses on increased seatbelt use, avoidance of alcohol while driving by reducing teens' access to alcohol, implementing graduated driver licensing, and increasing parental responsibility.
We Know the Causes
Research shows which behaviors contribute to teen-related crashes. Inexperience and immaturity combined with speed, drinking and driving, not wearing seat belts, distracted driving (cell phone use, loud music, other teen passengers, etc.), drowsy driving, nighttime driving, and other drug use aggravate this problem.
As a parent of two young children, I dread the day they start driving! Being an Illinois and Missouri injury attorney, I tend to see the bad things that happen to people. I see the doctor mistakes, I see the car accidents, the truck accidents, the motorcycle accidents. I see real people, relying on big corporations to properly test products before they are shipped, and these same people being disappointed or even injured. I see amazing, caring parents lose children in the blink of an eye. Does it make me paranoid? Probably. Does it make me want to do everything I can to stop teen crashes? Absolutely.
As parents, we have a role in this and it isn't enough to simply say "drive safe", "use your head", "don't drink and drive". It isn't effective. We have to do more. I applaud NHTSA for taking the lead on this. Their website is designed to arm parents with ways to discuss these issues with teens, to reduce the availability of alcohol to teen drivers.