Edmonson Voice Staff Report:
The office of Edmonson County Attorney Greg Vincent has released information on their support of National Teen Driver Safety Week, which is October 20-26, 2019. Vincent's office said that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens 15 to 18 years old in the United States, ahead of all other types of injury, disease, and violence. In 2017, there were 2,247 people killed in crashes involving a teen driver (15-18 years old), according to the release.
"Because of their lack of experience, teen drivers are a potential danger to themselves and to other drivers, which is why it is so important that parents take time to discuss driving safety with their teens,” said Vincent.
Vincent also said that parents play an important role in helping ensure their teen drivers take smart steps to stay safe on the road. The National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA)'s website, www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving, has detailed information and statistics on teen driving, and outlines the basic rules parents can use to help reduce the risks for teen drivers:
1. Impaired Driving: All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol. However,
nationally in 2017, 15% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system. Remind your teen that driving under the influence of any impairing substance – including illicit or prescription drugs, or over-the-counter medication – could have deadly consequences.
2. Seat Belt Safety: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle, yet many teens aren't buckling up. In fact, there were 539 passengers killed in passenger vehicles driven by teen drivers, and more than half (60%) of those passengers who died were NOT buckled up at the time of the fatal crash. Remind your teen that it's important to buckle up on every trip, every time, no matter what – front seat and back.
3. Distracted Driving: Cell phone use while driving is more than just risky – it can be deadly, and is against the law in Kentucky. Remind your teen about the dangers of texting and using a phone while driving. Distracted driving isn't limited to cell phone use; other passengers, audio and climate controls in the vehicle, and eating or drinking while driving are all examples of dangerous distractions for teen drivers.
4. Speed Limits: Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially for teens. In 2017, more than one-quarter (27%) of all teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. Remind your teen to always drive within the speed limit.
5. Passengers: Passengers in a teen's car can lead to disastrous consequences. Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up dramatically in direct relation to the number of passengers in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers.
Parents can help protect their teen drivers by talking with them about these risks. Surveys show that teens whose parents set firm rules for driving typically engage in less risky driving behaviors and are involved in fewer crashes.
“Teens learn much of this content in drivers' education classes, but it's their home environment that will really help these lessons and rules stick. We need parents to set these rules before handing over the car keys,” Vincent said. “We hope parents will start the conversation about safe driving during National Teen Driver Safety Week, but then continue the conversations – every day throughout the year – to help keep their teens safe behind the wheel.”
For more information about National Teen Driver Safety Week and to learn safe driving tips to share with your teens, visit www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving.