Summer is here and with it comes millions of teens out of school and ready to hit the road. This is especially amplified as the United States continues to open up from the COVID-19 pandemic. Teens are ready to get out and about after what feels like a “lost year” but in 2021, there are more variables than ever before!
Keeping teens safe while driving is important for everyone because driving doesn’t just affect you but those around you. We all want to see our loved ones navigating the roads responsibly and coming home safe. There are some of the top risks to be aware of this summer. Be sure to speak with your teen about safe driving practices and the responsibilities that come with the privilege of driving before they hit the open road.
It should be no surprise that distracted driving causes more accidents than anything else in the United States and as technology grows, so too do distractions. There are the obvious, such as texting and driving or using social media, but there are the not so obvious, such as choosing a new song or eating while behind the wheel. Today, there are tons of social media apps, trends, and messaging options for teens to find themselves enthralled instead of driving. Another huge distraction can be other passengers in the vehicle. All drivers need to focus on the road but especially when it comes to teens. Having a car filled with their friends is the perfect recipe for distractions in a variety of forms.
Research from the CDC shows that not only do teens speed more than older demographics, but are also more likely to leave smaller gaps between themselves and others on the road. This is concerning because driving the speed limit and providing adequate space for braking are key fundamentals of safe driving. The cause of speeding can be due to a variety of factors, making it even more difficult to pinpoint a reason for this risk in young drivers:
- Inexperience leading to higher speeds.
- Not fully understanding the consequences of driving at high speeds and feeling as if a crash could “never happen to me”.
- Peer pressure or the need to prove themselves through risky activities.
- Distractions can cause teens to focus less on driving and as a result their speed.
- Impaired driving affects their judgment.
Teen males are more likely to speed than any other age group of the same sex and the results are the same for females. Every time we drive 10 mph over 50 mph, we double our chances of death or serious injury, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Be sure to speak with your teen early and often about the real dangers that come with speeding to help mitigate this risk and keep our roads safer.
The wide range of variables drivers must take into account is truly an exceptional amount when you stop and think about it. Not only do you have to account for your own actions but you have to account for the actions of those around you in vehicles, pedestrians, road conditions that can change at any instant, and so much more. Like any skill, it will take time to hone and grow your teen’s driving ability.
Driving Under the Influence
If there is a positive here, over the last few decades, teen drinking and driving continues to decline. However, around 5% of teen drivers will still drive after drinking and this is a reason for concern. Teen drinking and drug use are always to be discouraged but to ignore that they are realities is unwise. Because teens experiment with drugs and alcohol at times and are unable to recognize the signs of impairment or handle substances the same way adults can mentally and physically, it’s a perfect recipe for disaster when you add in the dangerous potentials that come with driving.
Engaging In Risky Behaviors
Speeding is the obvious risk when we think about teens driving in an unsafe manner but there are additional risky behaviors that can cause your teen to crash and/or cause harm to themselves or others. This includes:
- Not wearing a seatbelt.
- Performing reckless driving maneuvers including stunts.
- Driving a vehicle while exhausted or sleep-deprived.
From attempting risky trends on social media to simply not having enough energy to operate a vehicle, there are life-threatening risks that your teen should be aware of before engaging in behaviors that can leave their health or the health of another, compromised.
How to Mitigate Risks for Your Teen Driver
Having open, honest conversations and setting a good example are the best ways to help your teen. There are plenty of courses and practice that will help but the decisions made by your teen will ultimately be the deciding factor as to how much risk they incur while driving. Using appropriate guidelines will also help your teen limit their driving risks:
- Setting driving curfews.
- Limiting the number of people inside their vehicle at a time.
- Create an open method for your teen to contact you for a ride should they find themselves in a difficult situation involving driving under the influence or any other risky behavior.
- Speak to your teen about the consequences of driving under the influence, speeding, or any other reckless behaviors and set a proper example for them to follow.
Getting your teen to understand the risks and ramifications of their actions can go a long way. Beyond the physical dangers, financial repercussions are always a threat when teens drive irresponsibly.
Speeding tickets and DUIs can lead to increases in your auto insurance policy premium, which is nothing compared to the financial responsibility you may be on the hook for in the event of an accident without the right insurance policy. Keep your teen safe with guidelines, honest communication, and protect your finances with the right coverage from TGS Insurance. We offer several discounts to provide your teen driver with the lowest possible price for their auto insurance. Get your auto insurance quote in one step with TGS Insurance!