Back-To-School Driving Safety : Get Educated

With the excitement of each new school year also comes new opportunities and challenges for parents and students. Parents all remember their teenage years, the anxiety associated with choosing new classes, making new friends, and the ever-present desire to finally have the independence of owning and driving your own car.  

While getting a license and learning to drive is a coming-of-age milestone for every teenager, the dangers associated with teen driving have been ever-present through the last several decades.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, automobile accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths in the United States. Texting and driving opens up even more opportunities for accidents, and parents are left with an unsettling feeling when handing the keys over to teenagers.

As unfortunate as this fact is, it is in our power to prevent these tragic accidents. We look to resources, the CDC and the National Safety Council, to show us how dangerous teen driving has the potential to be.

Here are some astonishing points about teen driving:

The facts.

  • The CDC reported in Teen Drivers: Get the Facts that in 2013, 2,163 people in the US ages 16-19 were killed in an automobile accident. In other words, 6 teens die a day from a car accident.

  • When teens hit the road, they are more likely to speed and leave less room when passing and following other vehicles. And, the CDC states “the presence of a male teen in the vehicle increases the likelihood of this risky driving behavior”.

  • A shocking 56% of teens reported that they didn’t wear a seatbelt as a passenger.


Know who is most at risk.

  • The CDC reports who is most at risk for a automobile accident:

    • Teenage boys. Of the accidents reported of teens aged 16-19, the death rate was 2x higher among males.

    • Teens driving with other teens in the car. The risk increases with the number of teens in the vehicle.

    • Teens who just got their license. The risk of accident is much higher in the first few months of teens having their driver’s license.


To parents - here’s what you can do.

  • Encourage your teens to wear their seatbelts. It is the single most controllable action they can take when getting into the car. They can’t control how other drivers act, or what unforeseen circumstances might unfold, but putting on a seatbelt is the decision that could save their life.

  • Enforce strict no drinking and driving among teens. Although the legal maximum BAC limit is .08, we must push a 0.0 BAC with teen drivers. With the modern convenience of cell phones, a safe, and sober ride a phone call (or Uber request) away. The $30 cab or Uber ride is worth it when comparing it to the value of your child’s life.

  • Education is extremely important with teens. You can take action towards educating your teens to help them stay safe on the road. You can’t always be in the car with them, but by taking the right steps, you can put them in the best position to be a respectable driver. According to the CDC, there are eight “danger zones” that teens should be aware of:

    • Inexperienced drivers

    • Other teens in the vehicle

    • Driving at night

    • Lack of seatbelt usage

    • Driving with distractions

    • Driving while drowsy

    • Reckless driving

    • Impaired driving

Here is a resource for you to dive deeper into the eight danger zones and what actions parents can take towards safety.

The CDC’s campaign, Parents are the Key, provides ample resources and guidance to help keep your teens safe on the road. Here is a parent-teen driving agreement from Parents are the Key. It may seem like a daunting task for your teen to sit down with you and set guidelines, but they will be appreciative in the long run. This resource is a pledge for you talk about teen driving issues and encourage the right behavior.

Letting your teenager out on the roads can be scary. And, unfortunately, you can’t control the actions of others. But you can educate yourself and your children on the importance of safety. Check out Parents are the Key for ample free resources. You’ll be happy you did!