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Teen Drivers: High-Risk Statistics And How To Keep Them Safe

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According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers between the ages of 16-17 are at three times the risk for crashing than those over the age of 20. Likely causes include immaturity, an inability to accurately estimate their own driving skills, and general lack of experience driving. As a parent of a teen driver, you want to do all you can to keep them safe on the road. Here are the most common factors that put teens at risk and cause them to be pulled over by law enforcement. When you understand the dangers, you are better able to encourage safe driving behaviors with your child.

Too Many Passengers

For those drivers who have a provisional license or learner's permit, they must be accompanied by a licensed driver in the front seat, usually at least 21 years of age or older, depending on the state. New Jersey has recently come up with an easier way to enforce this law. As of 2010, Kyleigh's Law requires that all provisional drivers under the age of 21 display a bright orange decal on both the front and rear plates of their vehicle. The law was enacted after Kyleigh D'Alessio—a 16-year-old passenger—was killed by another teen driver. The sticker alerts officers of provisional drivers and allows them to more easily assess when that driver, who appears to be violating one of the provisions, needs to be pulled over. 

Teens who are learning how to drive are statistically at a higher risk on the road. They tend to get distracted easier, making them more likely to be involved in an accident. Det. Eugene Chin of Fanwood, NJ supports Kyleigh's Law, stating that his officers have pulled over a number of teens who have been in violation. And this study here indicates that more than 1,600 drivers were spared from automobile accidents in the first year alone after the law was passed. In fact, car accidents overall dropped by 8% that year. 

Your child will learn safe driving techniques in school, but as a parent, you have a responsibility to reinforce these laws and safety techniques. Talk with your teen about provisional driving laws in your state, not only to keep everyone safe but also to prevent unnecessary fines.


In approximately one-third of all teen fatal crashes, speeding was a factor. It's unfortunate but true that young people think they are invincible, that nothing bad can happen to them.

Teens speed for various reasons but typically to impress their friends, because they're in a hurry to get to school or work on time, or they're simply not paying attention to the speedometer. And they are more likely to speed at night and in the presence of passengers. If your teen is speeding and does not get pulled over, there's still a chance he or she could get caught by a speed camera if they are used in your city or state. Regardless of whether or not they are ticketed, it's vital to be the authority here and talk to your teen about the risks of fatalities and the fact that, despite popular thinking amongst them and their peers, they are not invincible.

Not Wearing a Seat Belt

DriveSteady.com reports that more than half of all teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were not wearing seat belts, a disturbing statistic given the plethora of evidence showing how this device saves so many lives. But again, many teens think that they are immortal. The most common reasons for your teen to skip the belt include a feeling of rebellion, wanting to look "cool," and misinformation on how important a seat belt is in saving lives.

If you find out your teen driver is not wearing his or her seat belt, remind them of the risk. Revoke driving privileges if necessary. Remember, just because your child has a driver's license, it does not mean they have a license to complete freedom. Local government makes and enforces laws, but it's up to you to start by educating at home. According to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, teens whose parents are involved with their driving education are two times more likely to click the belt in place. 

There are many other factors that could lead your teen driver into a dangerous situation, like alcohol intoxication and cell phone use, a major distractor. The Drive Steady website additionally reports that 56% of all teens rely on their parents for safe driving education. So hop over to this web-site and get involved today.