The Dangers of Teens Behind the Wheel

Are you familiar with the “disease” that is the leading killer of teenagers, claiming the lives of 2,400 each year? What’s more is that this “disease” could easily be prevented through inexpensive behavior changes.

The truth is, no such “disease” exists: motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teenage deaths – not any disease.1,2 In 2012, 2,439 teen drivers and passengers died in motor vehicle crashes.3 In half of these fatal crashes, the teen wasn’t using a seat belt, and this proportion has been relatively unchanged over the last decade. In both fatal and nonfatal crashes, a greater percentage of passengers are unrestrained than drivers.4

SERIOUSLY how freaking hard is it to take 5 seconds to buckle up?!?!

The top reason teens gave for not buckling up is that they “forgot”, or that it just wasn’t a habit.  Note to Parents: These habits start young! Teens who aren’t using seat belts have indicated that they do not  see their parents use a seat belt when they drive. So parents: In order to help your teen stay safe on the road, set a good example!! Of course, not using a seat belt is only part of the issue. Teens who don’t use seat belts are almost more likely to admit that they text while driving than those who do wear seat belts — a problem that we all know is much too common. Of teens who don’t use  a seat belt admit to 73% texting while driving —  compared to 52% for those who do wear their seat belt. Granted, the goal is to have 0% of drivers texting and driving, but the point is that danger has been compounded by not wearing a seat belt with the greater likelihood of texting while driving.  Keeping teens safe in cars starts long before they are ready to drive or ride with friends. By following these tips, we can make sure that teens are making safe decisions when riding as passengers today and drivers tomorrow:

  • Make using a seat belt for every ride a habit, starting when kids are young.
  • Be a safety role model by observing speed limits, putting phones away while driving, and following the rules of the road.
  • Talk to teens and kids about ways to speak up if a driver of any age isn’t driving safely

Teens in Cars (SafeKids) Infographic courtesy of Safe Kids Worldwide

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Sources:
1. CDC Leading Causes of Death for Ages 13-19 in 2010
2. NHTSA 2010 Fatality Analysis (Ages 13-19)
3. NHTSA 2012 Fatality Analysis (Ages 13-19)
4. NHTSA 2003-2012 Fatality Analysis by Restraint Use (Ages 13-19)