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By Jim Adler October 14, 2016

Do you have a child who’s a new driver or about to become one? If so, please know that Oct. 16-22 is National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW), an effort to increase safety awareness and provide solutions to preventable teen fatalities and injuries. The week is promoted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which offers a “5 to Drive” safety campaign.

Wrecks Are Top Teen Cause of Death

Why have a special safety week for teen drivers? The NHTSA says car wrecks are the top cause of death for teens 15 to 19 years old. In 2014 alone, 2,679 drivers of that age were involved in fatal crashes, which also injured around 123,000 teens. Statistics show that half of all teens will be in a traffic accident of some kind before graduating from high school. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says teens 16 to 19 years old, per mile driven, are almost three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers aged 20 or older. Indeed, an average of six drivers or passengers aged 16 to 19 die in a car wreck each day. Parents are reminded to alert their teens to the dangers of driving — dangers such as alcohol abuse, speeding, distracted driving and failure to use seat belts. The NHTSA can help focus on such dangers with its “5 to Drive” rules of the road.

‘5 to Drive’ Rules of Driving Safety

These “5 to Drive” rules of driving safety for the annual NTDSW — or any time — are:
  • No cell phone use while driving
  • No extra passengers, whose distractions can increase driving risks
  • No speeding, which clearly increases driving risks
  • No alcohol, which kills thousands on our roads yearly
  • No driving or riding without wearing a seat belt

‘Avoid the Regret’ of Alcohol Use

It’s been demonstrated that “scaring” teens into driving safely isn’t as effective as showing them the positive means to do so. With that in mind, the NHTSA also offers a theme to ‘Avoid the Regret – Avoid Impaired Driving.’ The positive message is to arrive safely by driving while sober. According to Traffic Safety Marketing, nearly one-third of drivers 15-20 years old who were killed in auto accidents in 2013 had alcohol in their system, even though they were too young to purchase alcohol legally. The NHTSA also encourages teens to share their thoughts on how to avoid impaired driving on tumblr with the designation #ultimatepartyfoul.

Teens Need Experience to Drive Safely

Why do teens have a high rate of car crashes? The National Safety Council says it’s largely because they are inexperienced drivers. Being new drivers, they have less experience in judging the correct speed for road conditions and making safe turns, or judging the safety of gaps in traffic. They also may be more easily distracted. Until teens gain experience as drivers, driving safely shoud be a steady concern — and National Teen Driver Safety Week tries to hammer home that message. Jim Adler & Associates strongly supports safe teen driving and the goals of National Teen Driver Safety Week. But the value of safe driving goes for everyone of any age, and at all times of the year. Let’s all drive safely. Let’s all drive to arrive alive.
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