Summer is a liberating time for children and teens alike. Classes are finished, the sun is out and it’s their time to relax and have fun. But did you know that the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is considered the 100 deadliest days for teens?
An average of 260 teens are killed in car crashes each month during the summer, a 26% increase compared to other months in the year*. However, there are safety precautions teens can take to stay safe and vigilant behind the wheel.
7 Ways to Stay Safe Behind the Wheel
1. Buckle up: every person, every time
More than half of teens involved in fatal car crashes were not wearing a seat belt. Make sure your teen is buckled up every time they get into the car: every time, every distance, no exceptions.
2. Don’t text and drive
Texting and driving takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds at a time, on average. If your teen is driving at 55 mph, this is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded. Set strict guidelines against texting and driving, and set a good example by not using your phone while driving.
3. Speak up when any person is driving unsafely
Half of teen passengers report feeling unsafe while riding with a driver who isn’t alert, but most of them don’t speak up. Why? Because they are afraid of what their friends might say. Encourage your child to speak up if they feel they are riding with an unsafe driver, and provide them with an alternative way home.
4. Limit the number of passengers in the car
When two or more teens ride together in the car, the risk of a fatal crash can double or even triple. Alabama follows the Graduated Driver’s License Law, which restricts teen drivers from having more than one non-family member in the car with them for the first six months after getting their license. Enforcing this law at home will ensure than your teen isn’t distracted by friends behind the wheel.
5. Don’t drink and drive
15 percent of drivers aged 15-19 who were killed in fatal crashed had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or higher. Remind your teen that drinking and driving is never okay, and poses serious legal and potentially lethal consequences.
6. Driving when it’s dark
The risk of a fatal crash at night can be three times higher for teens than for adults. Make sure your teen gets plenty of practice driving at night when they still have their permit and a trusted adult like you in the car.
7. Follow the speed limit
More than 33% of teens killed in fatal crashes were speeding. Make sure your teen is following posted speed limit signs at all times.
Remember that children and teens learn by example. Modeling good behavior behind the wheel will teach your child what is and what isn’t acceptable. Additionally, creating a contract or pledge for you and your teen to sign will set clear guidelines for your expectations. Use this contract to address consequences for speeding, texting, drinking or having too many passengers in the car.
*statistic courtesy of wesavelives.org