AAA is now calling the summer driving season the “100 Deadliest Days.” That’s because more than 5,000 people have died in car crashes during this stretch of time in the past five years involving teen drivers, according to the organization. The other numbers behind teen driving are also sobering. AAA says that teen drivers are involved in an average of 10 crashes per day during the summer months. That’s 16% higher than the rest of the year. And that “nearly 60% of teen crashes involve distractions behind the wheel.”
For all drivers, not just the parents of teenagers, that is frightening and a major cause of concern.
AAA studied more than 2,000 dash camera videos that captured the moments leading up to a crash and found that these are the top three distractions for teens prior to an accident:
- Talking or attending to other passengers in the vehicle.
- Talking, texting, or operating a cellphone.
- Attending to or looking at something in the vehicle.
Those all seem like highly preventable causes.
So, we’ve defined the problem. Now, what can you do about it?
1. Talk to Your Teen
The best thing that you can do is talk to your teens early and often about the dangers of distracted driving. If they hear from an early age about how distracted driving can kill or injure someone, it will begin to sink in. And by the time they are of driving age, they will be more likely to heed those warnings.
2. Show Them Examples
You see and hear about distracted driving accidents and deaths in the news all the time. When your kids are old enough to drive, show them those stories so they can see that these things are happening to real people in your community.
3. Drive With Them
Sure, they might be on their best behavior while you’re in the car, but maybe not. If you drive with them enough, you’ll begin to get a true sense of how they drive and what they pay attention to and what they don’t.
4. Set a Good Example
Possibly the most important thing that you can do to encourage better driving habits is to show them what a good driver looks like. If you’re using your phone to make calls and send texts while the kids are in the car, they’re going to think that behavior is acceptable. It’s not.
5. Suspend Their Privileges If Needed
You may have to show some tough love. If you notice a problem with your teen’s driving, you need to take away their driving privileges. Until they can prove to you that they are not a danger to themselves or others, they lose the right to get behind the wheel. Period.