Safety Information Center

Teen Driving Problems and Solutions

Traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States, accounting for 36 percent of all deaths in this age group. On the basis of per mile driven, teen car drivers between 16 and 19 are four times more likely than other car drivers to crash. Parents and their teenage children need to pay particular attention to dealing with basic driving rules, distractions and passengers. These include:

  • Driving without safety belts. Teenage drivers have the lowest rate of seatbelt use compared to drivers in other age groups. Teenagers should understand that many lives can be saved and injuries avoided if they always put on seatbelts in a car, not only when they are driving, but when they are passengers as well.
  • Too many teenage passengers riding in a car without adult supervision. The odds of a teenager being in a car crash are directly related to the number of teenage passengers in that car. The more teenage passengers, the greater the chance of a car crash. No other teenage passengers should be allowed when no adult is present.
  • Speeding. All drivers should be attentive to speed limits and the safety of their passengers, drivers , passengers in other cars, and pedestrians.
  • Alcohol. Whether teenagers or adults, people who drive after consuming alcohol pose a great danger to themselves and to others. No one should be drinking alcohol before they get behind the wheel of a car and passengers should make alternative transportation arrangements rather than ride in a car with someone who has been consuming alcoholic beverages.
  • Safest time for teen driving. The safest time for teen driving is during the day when visibility is greatest.
  • Lost focus. Teenagers must focus on their driving. They must pay attention and be aware of their surroundings, lest they increase their prospects for disaster. Teens, and all inexperienced drivers, are more susceptible to distractions while driving. Talking on a cell phone, playing loud music on the radio, glancing at an I-pod, and boisterous behavior pose distractions away from driving.
  • Getting a driver’s license too quickly. The safest way for teens to learn to drive is to go through a graduated driving program, which allows beginners to gradually assume full driving privileges as they become more skilled and mature in driving. Graduated driving programs have been adopted in most U.S. states.
  • Learning the laws about car driving. Car-driving laws vary by states, so teens need to understand the law in their state.

Role of parents:

Parents are concerned about the safety of their teenage children drivers. In their car-driving behavior, parents may serve as a good model that teens will follow if they drive carefully and are instructive. They may find it useful to sign a “driving contract” with their teen driver, which he or she agrees to follow. Some items in that contract may allow parents to ride along often with the new driver, require permission for trips, limit the number of passengers, and enforce a curfew.

This article was prepared by Direct Response Corporation, on May 13, 2008 as a service to you.