Teen drivers make summer dangerous

Study shows that from 1995 to 2004, teen drivers claimed the lives of 30,917 people, 11,177 were the drivers themselves

June 04, 2008 at 11:30 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

The halls are empty, the final bell has rung and now those students are barreling into their vehicles in search of summer fun.

But even though they may think they are invincible now, more young drivers get in accidents during the summer months. Because of that, now is the time when driver’s safety is more important than ever.

“It’s not just because there are more teen drivers out on the road, but there are also more teen pedestrians on the streets,” Capt. Pat Yoes, spokesman for the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, said.

Yoes says there is no specific reason why those teens tend to get in more accidents, but says that their lack of experience and the distractions they face could play a big role.

“Parents need to have a safe driving discussion with their kids,” Yoes said. “The consequences of not doing it could be worse than a speeding ticket. It could be killing someone and having to live with it.”

And that’s not an understatement.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, between 1995 and 2004 crashes involving 15-to17-year-old drivers claimed the lives of 30,917 people. 11,177 of those were the drivers themselves.

However, studies have shown that parents can play a big part in the prevention of these accidents.

A joint survey by Liberty Mutual and Students Against Destructive Decisions shows that teens spend 44 percent more hours driving each week in the summer than during the school year. But, the survey found that teens who believe their parents would follow through on threatened consequences for breaking a driving law say they are significantly less likely to speed.

“It is refreshing to validate the influence parents have on their teen drivers and the fact that the tried and true measures we use to establish appropriate behavior in our children during their younger years have the same powerful effect on teenagers,” SADD Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stephen Wallace said.

And while speeding is a huge influence in vehicle accidents, not paying attention can also wreak havoc on the roadways.

In fact, the survey found that 23 percent of teen drivers are more likely to drive with three or more people in the car in the summer. 52 percent of teens who don’t feel their parents would follow through on a punishment also say they talk on a cell phone while driving.

To prevent these actions, Liberty Mutual and SADD say that parents need to set family rules about driving while outlining clear consequences for breaking the rules. Some of these rules should be that no friends are allowed in the car without an adult and that there should be no distractions while driving, including eating, changing CDs, handling iPods or putting on makeup.

Cell phone use and text messaging should also be prohibited.
It’s not good enough to just go over these rules once. Parents should continue the dialogue with their teens and frequently reinforce the acute dangers of distracted driving, drinking and driving, or using drugs and driving.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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