According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-19-year-olds than among any other age group.1 In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.1
Did you know? Teens see a driver’s license as a step toward freedom, but the parents might not be sure their teen is ready for the road. One thing is certain: teens aren’t ready to have the same level of driving responsibility as adults. Teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience. Teens speed, make mistakes, and get easily distracted—especially while friends are in the car. To help keep teens stay safe behind the wheel, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have a three-stage graduated driver licensing (GDL) system that limits high-risk situations for new drivers. This approach can reduce teen’s crash risk by as much as 50%.
Did you hear?
The adolescence years include some big changes for teenagers. These changes include physical, mental, and behavioral health. Every young person goes through these stages in life. The injury prevention department at Dartmouth-Hitchcock recognizes these changes and wants to promote the healthy development while recognizing certain impulses that adolescence may have behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
We recognize that it is normal for teenagers to push boundaries and take risks. Teenage risk taking is an important part of their journey in finding their identities and becoming independent young adults. During adolescence there are changes in the brain that make teenagers more focused on the reward they feel when they are admired by their friends, and the positive reinforcement they get by being included. You can learn more information on the NH Teen Drivers website that provides information towards ways to stay safe while being in the risk taking stage and so much more!
Teen motor vehicle crash deaths and injuries can be prevented. Being aware of the leading causes of teen crashes can help you stay safe on the road:
Driver Inexperience. Crash risk is highest in the first year a teen has their license. Crash risk is particularly high during the first several months of licensure.3
Driving with Teen Passengers. Crash risk goes up when teens drive with other teens in the car.3
Nighttime Driving. For all ages, fatal crashes are more likely to occur at night, but the risk is higher for teens.3
Not Using Seat Belts. The simplest way to prevent car crash deaths and injuries is to buckle up.3
Distracted Driving. Distractions increase teen’s risk of being in a crash.
Drowsy Driving. Young Drivers are at high risk for drowsy driving. Teens are typically most tired and at risk when driving in the early morning or late at night.3
Reckless Driving. Research shows that teens lack the experience, judgment, and maturity to assess risky situations.3
Impaired Driving. Even small amounts of alcohol will impair your teen’s driving ability and increase their risk of a crash.3 Many other types of drugs/substances (including marijuana, other illicit drugs, prescriptions medications, or over-the-counter medications) also have the potential to impair a teen’s ability to drive safely.3
Here are the Top 4 Tips to Keeping in Mind Before You Get Behind the Wheel
Buckle your seat belt. Seat belts are proven to reduce risk of death and serious injuries when crashes occur by about half.1
Do not drink any alcohol or use any drugs before getting behind the wheel. These activities are dangerous for any driver but are particularly dangerous for young, inexperienced drivers.1
Put all distractions aside. Make sure your cell phone is off and away.1 If you need to make a phone call, pull off to a safe location on the side of the road.1 Even hands-free technology mentally distracts you from driving, and your full attention is needed to drive safely.1 If you need to use your phone for navigation directions, set it up before you get on the roan and pull over to a safe location on the side of the road if you need to make changes.1 Don’t text or use social media while driving!1
Take the time to familiarize yourself with the vehicle, especially if it is a vehicle you have never driven before. Know where important vehicle features are located, such as the turn signals, windshield wipers, and hazard lights.1 Adjust the mirrors and steering if necessary.1 Know the vehicle's safety features and how to operate it safely.1 Determine if your vehicle has any advanced safety technologies or driver assistance technologies such as a backup camera or lane departure warnings.1