April, May and June are the time of the year where high school students celebrate by attending proms and graduation parties. As these times of celebration near, it’s a great opportunity for families to have conversations around safety as their teen drivers get behind the wheel.
Automobile crashes continue to be the leading cause of death among teenagers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen driver crash rates are nearly 4 times more frequent that those ages 20 or over. In addition, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control states that crash injuries were one of the leading causes of death in teenagers 13 to 19 of age.
The Spring season, historically, has brought in Distracted Driving Awareness and Global Youth Traffic Safety months. This time of year provides a great opportunity for families to talk about the following tips for being safe on the roadways.
- Connect with other parents. Speak directly with any parents supervising after-parties your teen will attend since some parents may allow underage drinking.
- Talk about (not) drinking/doing drugs. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), many kids turn to their parents for guidance on drinking. Talk to your teen about dealing with peer pressure, the dangers/repercussions of underage drinking and driving, using illegal substances, and contacting you for a ride in situations involving drugs and alcohol.
- Offer options for rides. If a group insists on traveling together to prom and numerous graduation parties, talk to other parents about hiring a limo. That way no one gets behind the wheel. If it's not in the budget, offer to drive them yourself, or research other public transportation options in your community.
- Have the party come to you. Plan your own, adult-supervised, drug/alcohol free after-party at your house, school or local community center.
- Set the example. You can't always be in the car, but you can keep safety top-of-mind by demonstrating and enforcing habits like wearing a seat belt, not using a cell phone while driving, following the speed limit and driving with your eyes on the road, 2 hands on the wheel.
- Be a safe passenger. Passenger distractions are dangerous for new drivers. Be sure to respect the driver by not talking loudly, chatting on a cell phone, playing loud music, or acting disruptively. Distracted driving is a major cause of crashes, and passenger distractions are particularly dangerous for new drivers.
- Groom before you zoom. Before it's time to go, take one last look in the mirror and make sure you're looking good so nothing takes your focus off the road while driving.
- Get your beauty rest. Since many parties last until early morning, make sure you get plenty of sleep leading up to the big day, or ask your parents to pick you up so you and your friends don't have to drive tired. Fatal car crashes involving teens happen significantly more at night.
- Set limits. Put a limit on the number of friends you ride with. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)studies show that the presence of passengers in a vehicle increases the risk of accidents and crashes. Over half of teen passenger deaths are in incidents with teen drivers.
- Don't Drink/Do Drugs and Drive. Drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and driving should never mix no matter your age. This goes for using drugs and other illegal substances as well.
- Seatbelts are the perfect accessory. A little wrinkle in your dress, tux or graduation gown is hardly worth not buckling up for. Buckling your seatbelt can save your life and keep you from getting seriously injured. Plus, it's the law!
Find these tips and more on the State Farm® teen driver safety page, and always encourage your teen to make positive choices while driving.