Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among teens. In fact, during the summer months, the risk increases. Travel to and from summer jobs and social activities have more teens on the road and at risk. Teens also lack the experience needed to be more cautious on the road.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Injury Prevention Service has these driving tips to help parents and teens stay safe this summer:
1. Buckle up. It is important for parents to buckle up and remind teens to do the same. The seat belt use rate for teens is lower than adults and the majority of teens involved in fatal crashes are unbelted.
2. Watch your speed. Teen crashes often involve speeding. It is vital for parents to emphasize the importance of following speed limits, the dangers of speeding, and the cost of speeding tickets, which usually make insurance costs go up.
3. Don’t drink and drive. Teens are less likely to drive under the influence of alcohol, compared to adults. However, their crash risk due to alcohol is high because of their lack of experience and the fear of calling home to ask for a ride. Communication between parents and teens about drinking and driving is extremely important. Parents should remind teens not to drink, but if they do, they should call home for a ride or call a friend or responsible adult to take them home. They should never drive while drunk.
4. Focus on the road. Sending or reading one text takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field at 55 mph blindfolded. Teens should be told to put their phone away, out of sight, so there is no opportunity to text, talk, or surf the web while driving. Parents should practice these same precautions also.
5. Limit your passengers and follow a curfew. The Oklahoma Graduated Driver Licensing Law requires teens with a learner’s permit or an intermediate license to only have one passenger in the car unless accompanied by someone 21 years or older. It is important that parents remind teens to obey this law. More passengers can cause more distractions. Teens should also not drive too late in the evening because the fatal crash rate of 16-year-olds is nearly twice as high at night.
At a Glance:
— Nationally, seven teens, ages 16 to 19, died every day from motor vehicle injuries in 2010.
— In Oklahoma, nearly 4,600 teens, ages 16 to 19, were injured, and 55 died from motor vehicle injuries in 2010.
For more information on safe summer driving and motor vehicle safety, contact the OSDH Injury Prevention Service at (405) 271-3430 or visit http://ips.health.ok.gov.