Why are teenage drivers at higher risk?There are two main reasons why teenage drivers are at increased risk for motor vehicle-related crashes that result in injury or death, including the following:
- lack of driving experience
Lack of experience means the teenage driver is less able to detect and respond to traffic hazards, less in control of his/her vehicle, and less able to integrate speed.
- risk behavior of teenagers
Teenagers tend to take more risks as they are influenced by their emotions, stress, and peer pressure. In addition, experimenting with alcohol and recreational drugs can impair the teenager's driving ability. Also, teenage drivers tend to not use their seat belts, increasing their risk of injury in a crash. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), less than one-fourth of high school students say they always wear their seat belts when another person is driving.
Safer teenage driving:The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has made the following recommendations to pediatricians in coordination with parents to ensure safer teenage driving:
- Emphasize to both the parents and teenagers how important safe driving is, including the fact that teenagers need to develop driving skills with supervised practice.
- Set a good driving example as an adult.
- Establish limits on your teenager's driving privileges, such as a limited number of passengers and/or restricted nighttime driving.
- Impose penalties for irresponsible driving behavior.
- Supervise teenage drivers in vehicles.
- Make sure the vehicle is mechanically safe.
- Get involved in community advocacy, such as helping coordinate alcohol-free events, to help support parent-peer initiatives and help teenagers avoid negative peer pressure.
- Support legislative advocacy that targets a reduction in motor vehicle crashes among teenage drivers, such as graduated licensing systems, stricter minimum driving age laws, and tougher safety belt laws.
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