Wendy Tepfer, director of the Community Parent Center, has written the following in regards to safe summer driving:
Memorial Day to Labor Day – the best time of the year for teens as they trade text books for car keys, going to the beach or pool parties; unfortunately, it can also be the worst time of the year as it marks the 100 Deadliest Days on the road.
The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are when the number of teen driving fatalities and injuries increases dramatically. According to a study by the FIA Foundation and the National Organization for Youth Safety, twice as many teens die on roads during the summer months as compared to other times of the year.
As teens take to the roads, parents must take action and talk about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving. If parents have already had this conversation with their teens, then now is a good time to reinforce the issues and their expectations.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people worldwide. In the US, the crash risk is higher among 16 to 19 year olds than any other age group. Yearly, approximately 5,000 teens die in car crashes and another 300,000 are injured. That equates to 14 teens dying every day. These statistics are unacceptable because many of these deaths are preventable.
Experts say that the first year of unsupervised driving is by far the most dangerous, so making sure teens are safe on the road is challenging. Many of these crashes are caused by inexperience, driver error, speeding, impaired driving, passengers and distractions.
A recent survey indicated that texting and or talking on a cell phone while driving are teen drivers’ biggest distractions behind the wheel. More than 49 percent of teens report texting while driving, and about 82 percent of teens report using cell phones while driving.
Passengers are another huge risk: driving with one teen passenger doubles the risk of being involved in a crash and driving with two or more passengers increases the risk of a crash exponentially.
In the United States, over 12 percent of all fatal crashes were alcohol related and 40 percent of those involved teenage drivers who were drinking.
Parents are the most important influence on their teen when it comes to risky behaviors and driving. This is a crucial time for education, awareness, and smart decision making. Parents should not take anything for granted, make no assumptions and expect the unexpected when it comes to their teens’ driving behaviors.
Keep your teen driver safe by setting limits on how much they drive in high-risk situations, like at night, on the weekends and in bad weather. Limit number of passengers permitted in the car. Always know where your teen is driving to and what route they're taking. Also set a check-in time.
The Community Parent Center suggests signing a parent-teen driving contract: an agreement between teens and their parents, stating rules and consequences that are achievable and fair for the teen driver.
The Community Parent Center urges parents, school districts and communities all over the Long Island to re-enforce smarter and safer driving practices for our youth during these “100 deadliest days." One way to do this is to have teens sign our “Driving in the Safe Lane Pledge." This pledge, developed by the Community Parent Center, is a document to be signed by teen drivers, stating that they will abide by ten safe driving practices to promote responsible driving:
- Always wear seat belts
- Limit number of passengers
- Restrict night-time driving
- No alcohol or other drug use
- No cell phones or text messages
- Avoid distractions: CDs, iPods, food
- Keep eyes on road and hands on wheel
- Obey traffic signs, signals and markings
- Know the driving laws
- Drive a safe vehicle
Just one pledge can go a long way. Automobile crashes can affect anyone, but teen drivers suffer the heaviest burden from traffic injuries, whether from tragic early death or from long-term disability that may affect the rest of their lives.
Remember, driving is a privilege, not a right. When teens are handed the keys to a car, they are being given the responsibility for their safety, the safety of those who ride with them and those who share the road with them.