Teenagers face a different reality than the rest of us the instant they get behind the wheel: car crashes are the number one cause of death among their peers.
If you’re a young driver you can decrease the risk by limiting your night driving and observing speed limits. There are many such safe driving strategies.
For instance, you might also work to gain a better understanding of your craving for the sensation of speed and the tendency to take risks — and explore ways to use that knowledge to modify your behavior.
Don’t Drive Drowsy
Driving while fatigued causes approximately 100,000 crashes each year. Fatigue slows reaction time, decreases awareness and inhibits correct judgment. Experts say the best response to fatigue is to pull over and take a nap. Caffeine, loud music, or open windows are only a temporary solution
Speeding Can Increase Accidents
The time required to avoid a crash is reduced by speed and the likelihood of a crash increases. The severity does, too. When your speed increases from 40 mph to 60 mph, for example, the energy released by a collision more than doubles.
Courtesy Goes A Long Way
Exhibiting greater courtesy and consideration for other drivers can make driving safer. If another driver cut you off, try to turn the other cheek and stay driving at normal speeds. It’s best to not let drivers who are impatient make you react to them.
Failing to adjust to adverse weather conditions can prove fatal. Experts caution that you slow down, anticipate adjustments, and use appropriate braking techniques. At 40 mph, in a car that normally takes 110 feet to stop on dry pavement, it takes 200 feet to stop in the rain and 770 feet to stop on ice.
Limit nighttime and weekend driving.
Many teens drive at night for the first time in summer, with the night driving privilege often extended all at once. Treat night driving like the new experience it is and allow independent night driving only after significant supervised night driving.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 42 percent of fatal crashes involving teenagers happened between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. And the later it gets, the greater the chance that alcohol is involved. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System determined the risk of teenage drunk driving fatality is nearly 200 times as great at 1 a.m. Sunday as the risk nine hours later at 10 a.m. Sunday morning.
Not surprisingly the risk of crash deaths also increases on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with 54 percent of teenage motor vehicle deaths in 2003 occurring on weekend nights.
Punishing Bad Driving Habits: Revoke privileges if they speed, drink and drive.
Parents must insist their children wear safety belts, whether the child is the driver or a passenger. In general, teenagers are less likely than adults to wear safety belts, and failure to buckle up plays a significant role in teen driving deaths: About two-thirds of teens who are killed in crashes are not buckled up.
Safety-belt usage becomes more lax with alcohol consumption. Teen drivers are less likely to use restraints when they have been drinking.
In 2003, 74 percent of the young drivers who had been drinking and were killed in crashes were not wearing safety belts. Teenagers’ crashes and violations are more likely to involve speeding than those of older drivers, and most fatal crashes occur at high speed. The thrill seeking associated with immaturity (physical and emotional) can overtake what the driver knows to be the right thing to do. Nearly a third of drivers ages 15 to 20 who were killed in car crashes in 2003 had been drinking.