According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, young drivers, ages 15 to 20 years old, are especially vulnerable to death and injury on our roadways – traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America. Mile for mile, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.
Drinking and Driving
Drunk drivers killed 11,773 Americans in 2008 and 1.5 million tickets were issued for driving while intoxicated. There is good news, though. Alcohol-related fatalities are down over 50% since 1980, which shows the public is becoming more aware of the dangers of drinking and driving.
Seatbelts Save Lives
Failure to wear a seat belt contributes to more fatalities than any other single traffic safety-related behavior. 63% of people killed in accidents are not wearing seat belts. Wearing a seat belt use is still the single most effective thing we can do to save lives and reduce injuries on America’s roadways. (Source car-accidents.com)
In 2001, four teens were driving home from North Central Washington and lost control of the car, striking a tree. None was wearing a seatbelt. Two were thrown from the car, miraculously escaping injury. One was severely injured and another died. The facts speak for themselves. Wear a seatbelt.
Air Bags Don’t Replace Seatbelts
These were the greatest invention since the wheel! In the short time since they were first used, air bags have clearly proven their ability to save lives. Nonetheless, a seatbelt should be worn at all times, even in cars equipped with air bags.
Not too long ago in Omaha, a young driver was speeding through a congested traffic interchange, unaware that the road ahead curved. He lost control of the car and rolled into a light pole, sustaining extensive injuries. This driver will never fully recover. The excessive speed was an unnecessary risk under the circumstances. A recent study of 47,000 high school students found that 40% had had an accident in the last two years.
We use our youth as a time to experiment and try new things, be innovative, and more. By itself, that is great and it is what makes our society progressive. However, do not take that invincible attitude behind the wheel. No one is exempt from a potential accident.
Young drivers may have faster, better reflexes than older drivers do; however, they should not be relied upon. You will be in a better position with more driving experience to know how to anticipate a problem. That extra split second you pick up with quick reflexes is not enough advantage. It is usually too late by then.
Get Home Before Midnight
Statistically, you will have less chance of getting in a wreck if you are home and off the road before midnight.
Distracted Driving is Dangerous
Distracted driving is not just talking on cell phones and texting. Eating, putting on makeup, fiddling with the sound system … the list is huge. Your only job behind the wheel is driving.
Distracted by a Car Load of Passengers
You need at least three years of experience to learn how to deal with distractions. More than two friends in the car and you will be distracted. If your eyes are averted from the road for even a moment, you could get in an accident.
Distracted by Cell Phones & Music Players
In today’s technology-obsessed society, we are tempted to multi-task 24/7, even while driving a 2,000+ lb. vehicle in traffic! As noted above, developing skills to deal with distractions while driving takes years to develop. Don’t succumb to the temptation to talk or text on your phone behind the wheel! Likewise, fiddling with music players also averts your eyes from the road.
Eating, Putting on Make-Up, Etc.
In truth, doing anything besides concentrating on driving is distracted driving. Look around at other vehicles (while you’re a passenger of course) and in addition to using phones, PDAs, and music players, you will see drivers eating, putting on make-up, reading…all of which takes their focus off the road and increases their chances of causing an accident.
Your Responsibility: Develop Safe Driving Habits
Make it a priority as a new driver to establish safe driving habits from the start. Recognize the inherent dangers that come along with the privilege of driving. Remember that you are fully responsible for yourself and your passengers as the driver of a vehicle. Maintain this attitude and you will significantly lessen the likelihood that you will cause an accident due to inattention or poor judgment.