Life-Saving Summer Tips For Your Teen Drivers

teens in car driving
teens in car driving

Families and their young drivers are mapping out plans for summer vacations after a year of stay-at-home recommendations and closures.

The National Road Safety Foundation has sounded the alarm on teens anxious to get behind the wheel. Nine percent of drivers ages 15 to 19 involved in 2019 fatal crashes were reported as distracted, the NRSF stated..

“Talking and texting on cell phones, while the most talked-about cause of driver distraction, is not the only thing that can distract a driver,” said Michelle Anderson, director of operations at the National Road Safety Foundation. “It’s important that parents talk with their teen drivers about distraction.”

The National Road Safety Foundation has advocated safe driving programs since it was founded in 1962 by Fraydun Manocherian. The organization grew out of personal tragedy when he lost two high school friends in an accident caused by an impaired driver.

Overall, traffic-related deaths in the past few years are trending up. The National Safety Council estimated 42,060 people died on US roads and highways in 2020, an increase of 8 percent from the previous year and the highest in 13 years.

The increase is particularly startling given stay-at-home recommendations decreased overall mileage driven by 13 percent in 2020. Motor vehicle accidents were listed as the leading cause of death for drivers under 24 years of age. Young and teen drivers as a group also had the highest percentage of accidents.

“Seemingly harmless things like tuning the radio, adjusting the GPS, eating or drinking can take a driver’s mind off the road, with potentially deadly results,” Anderson said. “Even talking to other passengers can be a dangerous distraction.”

Distraction was attributed to 9 percent of fatalities involving drivers between the ages of 15 and 19. More than a third of all U.S. drivers admitted to talking or texting while behind the wheel, the NRSF pointed out.

“Young people pattern their behavior on what they see their parents and other adults do, so it’s up to us to set the right example,” said Anderson.

Teen summer driving recommendations and reminders from the NRSF:

  • Talk to teens about the problems of distracted driving and the types of common things that cause distractions (talking on the phone, texting, adjusting music player controls, eating and drinking while driving, roadside attractions, roadwork, other friends in the vehicle, pets in a vehicle, GPS navigation).
  • Remind teens to focus their eyes on the road while maintaining both hands on the steering wheel, especially when they encounter commotion inside or outside the vehicle.
  • Discuss states laws outlawing cell phone use by drivers. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have banned the use of ban text while driving. The use of handheld phones is illegal in 25 states and D.C.
  • Emphasize statistics which show distracted driving contributes to some 25 percent of all crashes in the US. and nearly 10 percent of teen driving fatalities.
  • Watch safety videos with your teen driver. The National Road Safety Foundation offers short videos about distracted driving:

“Part of the solution is simply becoming aware of what creates driver distraction and remembering that drivers must always keep their hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and their mind on the task of driving,”  Anderson said.