Teen Driving Safety Tips
Have you recently handed over car keys to a new teenage driver? Learning to drive is an exciting part of growing up, but it comes with many hazards when it is not taken seriously. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. In 2010, seven teens between the ages of 16 and 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. Nearly 300,000 were treated and released from emergency rooms as a result of being in an auto crash.

According to a report to the Insurance Institute of highway Safety, the risk of crashes is higher among 16 to 19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, they are three times more likely than drivers 20 and older to be in a fatal crash. Luckily, such crashes are preventable with measures such as these:

No Texting and Driving – Ten percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in a fatal crash were reported being distracted at the time of the accident. This age group has the largest portion of drivers who were districted. “Five seconds are the longest amount of time your eyes are off the road while texting,” said T. Glenn Pait, M.D., UAMS neurosurgeon. “When traveling at 55 MPH that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.” Parents should set ground rules with children and set a good example for them by putting their cell phones in the glove compartment every time they drive.

How to choose a safe car

No Drowsy Driving – According to the National Sleep Foundation, 11- to 17-year-olds need at least eight and half hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately, two-thirds of high school students get less than seven hours every night. “It’s up to parents to make sure that teens get enough sleep, especially if they are going to be driving the next day,” Pait said. “Teens that sleep less than average are more likely to be tired during the day and not focused on their schoolwork. Talk to your teen about the importance of sleep and set rules so he or she can stay healthy such as a consistent bedtime. If they are up late studying, offer them a ride to school.”

Parents are the key to safe teen drivers

Using the Graduated Driver Licensing SystemThe Graduated Driver Licensing System allows teens to get more experience under less risky conditions, and can lead to substantial decrease in crashes by 20 to 50 percent for drivers 16 to 17 years old. Every state has one though the specific rules vary. “As teens move through stages, teens gain privileges such as driving at night or driving with passengers,” Pait said.

Additional Note: If your teen has any health conditions, Pait suggests that you set them up an appointment with a doctor so they can have optimal control of their health before they get behind the wheel for the first time. You can make them an appointment at the UAMS Neighborhood Clinic.

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