How to Keep Teen Drivers Safe

Originally published on Savvy Auntie.

HealthDay News reports that summer is the most dangerous time of the year for teenage drivers and passengers with seven of the top ten deadliest days of the year occurring between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

According to AAA crash data analysis: Over 7,300 teen drivers and passengers ages 13-19 died in traffic crashes between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays during the five-year period of 2005-2009. An average of 422 teens die in traffic crashes during each of the deadly summer months as compared to a monthly average of 363 teen deaths during the non-summer months.

Distracted driving or “distracted-affected” driving, the biggest culprit in automobile accidents involving teenage drivers, contributed to 10 percent of fatal car accidents and 17 percent of injury-related car accidents in 2011—the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates 11 percent of all drivers, ages 15-19, involved in a fatal traffic accident were reportedly distracted at the time of the crash, and 21 percent of those drivers were distracted by cell phone use.

Decide to Drive

The prevention campaign, Decide to Drive, is presented by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), in partnership with the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, to instruct young drivers on the importance of staying focused at the wheel. In a recent news release, AAOS president Dr. Joshua Jacobs gave a brief statement about the campaign’s purpose:

Orthopaedic surgeons are the medical doctors who put bones and limbs back together after road crashes and trauma… We want to prevent distracted driving injuries, including those involving young drivers, and keep them and their passengers safe and strong for life.

The Wreck-less Checklist

Urge your teenage nieces and nephews to “decide to drive” and use the following Wreck-less Checklist before hitting the road this summer:

1. Consciously make a decision each and every time you get behind the wheel to make all other activities, passengers and priorities secondary to driving.

2. Before you start your car:

– Put on any accessories you may need, such as sunglasses or BluetoothTM earpieces
– Adjust seats, headrests, vehicle controls and mirrors
– Fasten your seatbelt
– Move all reading material away from easy reach
– Pre-load CDs or mp3 playlists and adjust your volume level so music does not mask the sounds of emergency sirens
– Enter an address in the navigation system before you depart, or review maps and written directions before you drive

3. The AAOS, OTA and the Auto Alliance encourage all drivers to simply stop your vehicle—in a safe area—any time there is a distraction that needs your attention, such as retrieving items, having an involved discussion, reading, etc.

4. Do not eat or drink while driving.

5. Keep your eyes on the road.

6. Driving is not the time to apply makeup, groom, polish your nails, or change clothing.

Further Reading

CDC: Safe Teen Driving
Keys2Drive: The AAA Guide to Teen Driver Safety
AAA Foundation: Distracted Driving Study
Distraction.gov
Partners for Safe Teen Driving

Photo: Ambro

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