According to USA Today, a recent study by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows that teen road deaths in the first 6 months of 2011 went up 11%, marking an increase for the first time in 8 years.
Experts attribute this increase to two main factors:
1.) The improving economy means that more drivers—including teens— are hitting the roads
2.) The effect of graduated driver licensing programs, or GDLs, is leveling off
So, given these factors, what can be done to combat the rate of teen driving accidents? While a wide variety of factors go into safety, I was struck by a recent AAA study saying that the average parent spends less than 2 hours per week in the car with their teen while he or she is learning how to drive. Most of those hours include little practice in more difficult driving conditions, like inclement weather or darkness.
While both teens and parents are incredibly busy, the importance of a teen having driving experience with a parent cannot be overstated. If parents spent more time in the car with their teens, the rate of teen driving deaths would be far more likely to decrease.
NBC Nightly News, the source that featured information about the AAA study, also showed footage of accidents avoided when a parent drove with their child.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. 16 teens per day die in car accidents, making a startling 6,000 deaths per year. Parents can help decrease this number just by sitting in the front seat.
This experience is especially important when teens get behind the wheel by themselves. Teens are 50% more likely to crash in the first month of driving than at any other time. Parents should try to ride along with teens when possible—even after an official license is issued.
There are so many factors that go into dangers on the road. The best thing that parents can give a child when they hand over the keys is the gift of experience with a practiced, trusted driver. It could save your teen’s life.
Christina Bruner Sonsire, Esq.
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, New York 14902-1338
Toll-Free: 800.ZIFFLAW (943.3529)