National Teen Driver Safety Week | October 15-17, 2017
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens 15-18 years old in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,333 teens in the United States ages 16–19 were killed and 221,313 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in 2014.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the five most common reasons for teen drivers’ injuries and fatalities are:
2. Improper seat belt usage
3. Distracted driving
Even though teens are too young to legally buy, possess or consume alcohol, according to the NTDSA in 2015, almost one out of five teen drivers involved in a fatal crash had been drinking. As recently as 2013, the number was almost one in three of those teen drivers involved in a fatal crash had been drinking. Teen drivers are more at risk than adults due to inexperience behind the wheel.
Simply wearing a seat belt is the easiest way to prevent fatalities in an accident, however, teens buckle up less than adults do. In 2015, a total of 531 passengers died in passenger vehicles driven by teen drivers, and 58 percent of those passengers were NOT wearing their seat belts at the time of the fatal crash. Teens will follow the lead of their parents. If you make it a habit to always buckle up so will your children. Additionally, ask your teen driver to insist that all passengers in their vehicle are buckled up before beginning on their journey.
According to the NTDSA in 2015, among teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, 10 percent were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. Distractions are not limited to cell phone use, but also listening to music, eating and especially other teens in the vehicle. There are many things parents can do to limit their teen’s distracted driving. First, model good behavior—do not let your children see you driving distracted. Make it a priority to show them that you do not answer your phone or text while driving. Next, there are many different apps to help parents monitor their children behind the wheel, including:
• Canary is a free app that puts all the information in parents’ hands. It offers text notification any time a child texts, tweets or answers a call while driving. Canary will also provide notifications when the teenage driver exceeds a certain speed or goes outside a set perimeter on the map, so you will always know that your child is where they’re supposed to be.
• CellControl is designed to disable only the driver’s phone, leaving other passengers free to use their phones normally. CellControl prevents behaviors that have been defined ahead of time: texting, taking selfies, using social media accounts and playing games, among others. It can also be set to simply monitor usage to determine whether or not a teenage driver is using their phone responsibly.
• Drive First is an app from Sprint. Your phone automatically locks when you start driving, so there is no need to start or stop the app and it automatically replies to texts. Drive First does allow you set three driving apps, such as maps or music, so you can get what you need without being tempted to text. You can also set some contacts to bypass the block so important people (like your babysitter or boss) are not blocked every time you get into the car.
• Live2Txt is an app that turns off texts and incoming calls on command. Live2Txt also sends a message to anyone sending a text or a call so that they know the individual is driving and won’t continue trying to contact them.
• TextArrest allows parents to control the ways in which a phone can be used while in a moving vehicle. It can also be set up to notify parents when the teenage driver overrides the Text Arrest function, travels outside a certain geographic area, or exceeds the speed limit. The app will also allow the phone to be used in the event of an emergency with parent notification.
• TextLimit prevents predefined features on a phone from functioning when the phone is moving above a certain speed. Once the phone goes back under the predetermined speed, the Text Limit restores all features and they are fully functional once more.
• DriveScribe blocks incoming calls and texts when the car is moving above a certain speed. Additionally, the DriveScribe app notifies drivers who are traveling too fast.
• Safe Driver monitors location and driving practices and can even send an alert to parents of infractions and where they occurred.
• Zoom Safer is another app that limits access to texting, calling and browsing while driving.
In 2015, almost one-third—29 percent—of all teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. There are a variety of aftermarket devices as well as in-vehicle options available on new cars that can provide this information. According to a 2009 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study of 16 and 17-year-old drivers, teens in vehicles with monitoring devices took fewer risks while driving than unsupervised teens. In addition to the apps previously mentioned, Motosafety and Zubie are two aftermarket devices that monitor driving habits and produce reports for parents.
Research shows that fatal crash risk goes up 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. Passengers exacerbate risky behaviors such as speeding and create a distraction to the teen driver.
To observe National Teen Safe Driving week, discuss with your teen ways to address and prevent risky behaviors behind the wheel. Take the time to download an app and assess your own behaviors. Your actions could save your teen’s life.