For Parents

The number one reason for teen crashes is driver inexperience – not drinking and driving, speeding, or filling a car with friends . . . although those choices can also be deadly.  While parents can set rules and enforce laws that prohibit risky behavior, parents must also realize that they are the ones who must give their teenager the time to practice driving skills and become a mature, safe and courteous driver.             

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"Many parents don’t realize it, but the #1 threat to their teen’s safety is driving or riding in a car with a teen driver.  The fact is, more than 2,400 teens lost their lives in car crashes in 2016. That’s six teens a day too many. The main cause? Driver inexperience.  Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate or not be able to recognize dangerous situations. Teens are also more likely than adults to make critical decision errors that can lead to serious crashes."

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute notes:

"Car accident prevention begins with helping teens gain the experience and skills necessary to stay safe on the road. Statistics show that motor vehicle crashes remain the number one cause of death for adolescents in the United States. Per mile driven, drivers ages 16 to 19 have crash rates approximately four times greater than those of drivers ages 20 and older. Fatal crash risk is highest for those ages 16 and 17.

"Car accident prevention statistics show that there are three common critical errors newly licensed teen drivers make that lead to serious crashes: lack of scanning to detect and respond to hazards, driving too fast for road conditions, and being distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle."

Parental reinforcement of basic driving skills and good decision making will lead to safe driving habits that will last a lifetime.  The Partners for Safe Teen Driving presentation is aimed at helping parents keep their teens safe as they gain those skills.

Each year, more than 50 high school students are killed and thousands more are injured on Virginia’s roadways. Hospitalization and rehabilitation costs, lost time from school, and other costs associated with long-term injuries create substantial emotional, physical and financial problems for students, their families and communities.

Parents and families – not the school – are in the best position to encourage responsible behavior and have a sustained effect on minimizing risks faced by inexperienced drivers. 

Adolescent Brain Development

Scientists now know that the decision-making portion of the teenager’s brain is not mature and the impulse control portion of the brain does not physically mature until about age 25. 

As a result, teenagers often fail to realize that fast driving, texting while driving, drinking, drag racing and having too many passengers are dangerous activities. Teenagers need active parental supervision, especially where driving is concerned!

In addition, teens often don’t recognize themselves as inexperience drivers. A study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that 60% of teens believe inexperience heavily influences safety, but only 15% consider their peers to be inexperienced. “This contradiction is quite dangerous, considering this sample of teens is almost exclusively comprised of inexperienced, novice drivers,” the study stated. Further, many teens believe that getting a license automatically makes them experienced.