Car accidents are the number one killer of teens between the ages of 15 and 19 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2014 alone, more than 123,000 teens suffered injuries and 2,679 teens died in crashes when they or one of their peers was behind the wheel, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
To raise awareness and fight back against these staggering statistics, Congress designated October 16 through 22 as National Teen Driver Safety Week. Congress hopes this week gives parents a reason to discuss the dangers of driving with their teens.
Teaching the “5 to Drive”
To help spur the conversation about road dangers and encourage ongoing conversations on the week’s ninth anniversary, they offer a look at some of the most common dangers through the “5 to Drive” campaign. The 5 to Drive are:
- No drinking and driving
- Buckle up. Every trip. Every time. Everyone — front seat and back
- Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel. No cell phone use behind the wheel
- Stop speeding before it stops you
- No more than one passenger at any time
In addition to having an open dialogue about the rules of the road with your teen driver, it is important to lead by example. Whether you realize it or not, your children and teens follow your lead when it comes to driving.
Even long before your children get their permit, they are watching you and learning lessons about safe driving. For this reason — and because it lowers your risk of a crash injury — you should always:
- Wear your seatbelt, even on short trips or in the backseat
- Obey the speed limit, and drive at a speed that is appropriate for current conditions
- Avoid texting, dialing, and using apps while you are behind the wheel
- Limit phone calls while driving, and ensure teens know it is illegal to use a phone and drive while under the age of 18 in Colorado
- Limit other distractions, including adjusting the radio, putting on makeup, and eating
- Do not drive when passengers are distracting you from the road
Statistics Show the Risks of Teen Driving
The most recent statistics and the ongoing trends support the top rules of the road for teens as outlined in the “5 to Drive.” While there are other risks to teen drivers on Denver’s roads, statistics show these five pose a large, unnecessary risk:
Drinking and Driving
While it is illegal for teens to drink alcohol, the latest accident statistics show that drinking is still common in this age group.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), teen drinking causes 4,700 deaths each year. In addition to alcohol, there are also other drugs — from cough medicine to marijuana — that can impair reaction time and good judgment behind the wheel. Encourage your teen to call you for a safe ride if they are going to drink.
Not Wearing Seat Belts
Almost 30 years ago, Colorado passed seatbelt laws requiring all front passengers and anyone under the age of 16 to use these restraints any time the vehicle is moving. This means your teens should have a habit of buckling up every time they get in the car.
However, teens are most likely to drive or ride in a car unrestrained, according to the CDC. For this reason, it is paramount that your teen always buckles up, no matter if he is driving or riding with friends.
Distracted driving causes a large number of teen car crashes each year. While the exact number is difficult to track, distracted driving played a role in 10 percent of the fatal crashes involving teen drivers nationwide in 2014, according to the NHTSA. Teach your teens to stow their phone and other electronics while driving, and only use them to call 911 in an emergency situation.
Speed played a role in about one out of every three fatal crashes involving a male teen driver and 20 percent of female teen drivers in 2014, according to the NHTSA.
This does not count the numerous other crashes where teens drove too fast for conditions, including rain, fog, or snow. Teach your teen to obey the speed limit, and to slow down in traffic, bad weather, or other poor conditions.
Driving All Their Friends
According to a study from the American Automobile Association, the risk of a deadly accident increases with each additional passenger. This is especially true for groups of teens, or a teen driver with younger passengers.
Under Colorado law, teens cannot have any non-family passengers under the age of 21 for the first six months they hold their license and no more than one until they have a license for at least a year. Ensure your teens understand this law, and abide by it at all times.
Contact a Colorado Car Accident Attorney
Even the best-behaved teens can be involved in an accident. If you or your teen suffered injuries in a Colorado car crash, the Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya, LLC can provide you with the help you need to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. We provide smart, aggressive, and compassionate representation to protect your rights.
Call us today at 303-758-4777 to learn more.