Responsibility while driving
The main causes for accidents are, distractions while driving in a group with other teenagers, use of cellular phones, driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages and speeding.
By: Edda Pujadas
DORAL, FL – Parents of teenagers know that in any moment they will have to share the keys of the car with their son or daughter, but before doing this, it is essential that they know that the main reason for deaths among teenagers between 16 and 19 years of age are traffic accidents. For this reason, it is vital to teach them to be responsible while driving.
According to the most recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 2,500 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 die every year in traffic accidents in the United States, and almost 300,000 are treated in Emergency Rooms due to injuries suffered while in traffic accidents.
In economic terms, teenagers between 16 and 19 years represent 6.9% of the population of the United States, but the traffic accidents in which they are involved cost more than 13 thousand million dollars per year, the equivalent to 8.4% of the total costs due to injuries caused by traffic accidents.
The risk of traffic accidents among teenagers is higher than that for any other age group. In fact, if we compare driven miles, drivers between 16 and 19 years have three times more probabilities to be involved in a deadly accident that drivers 20 years of age and older, and for this reason, insurance policies for this age group are more expensive.
If we bring the national statistics to a more local scope, we are concerned because the total number of traffic accidents in Doral rose 16% in 2018 compared to 2017 as stated by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Even when we do not have figures that indicate how many teenagers were involved in these accidents, it is essential to take into consideration the large number of young people that we see driving in our city.
We need to remember that in previous editions, we had referenced the increase in people speeding while driving in Doral. Unfortunately, while speeding tends to be related to the youth in the drivers, 40% of the people who race and are involved in fatal accidents are teenagers or are younger than 24 years of age.
CDC numbers also show that when teenage drivers are traveling with other passengers, their risk of suffering a traffic accident is multiplied. Use of a cellular phone can also increase the probability of an accident and can reduce the reaction time of a young driver compared with that of a 70 years old person.
Drinking alcoholic beverages also has an impact on teenage traffic accidents. In fact, almost 25% of fatal accidents among young people involve minors drinking and driving with alcohol levels that are far beyond the legal allowed limits. 70% of young drivers that die in traffic accidents due to alcohol consumption do not use a seat belt.
The number of traffic accidents increases for male drivers and for those that have recently received their driver’s license. The majority of crashes in which young people are involved, 53%, take place between Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Another critical factor is that teenagers tend to speed and leave a small space between their car and the one in front of them, compared to older drivers. An additional risk factor is that when compared with other age groups, teenagers only use the seatbelt 59% of the time.
TALKING ABOUT PREVENTION
Even when traffic accidents are the primary cause of death among teenagers in the United States, these accidents are preventable, and there are effective strategies that have proven to improve the safety of young drivers in the streets.
It is possible that teenagers underestimate or cannot recognize dangerous situations when compared with older drivers, and it is probable that they make mistakes that end in serious crashes. For this reason, it is crucial for us as parents to instill in them the sense of responsibility while driving.
The most basic prevention strategy while driving a vehicle is to wear the seat belt. Studies show that wearing your seatbelt reduces severe injuries and deaths that are related to car accidents by almost 50%.
It is a fact that teenagers are usually accompanied by their friends, even when this increases the risk of accidents. It is therefore imperative to talk to them about the importance of not getting distracted while driving. Explain to them what the statistics mean and show them videos that catch their attention on this subject.
It is also essential to make the teenager aware of the use of cellular phones and have them reflect on this. It is not only dangerous to text while driving; it has also been shown that teenagers get more distracted while talking on the phone and driving than adults.
Alcohol and driving do not mix. If your son or daughter already has a driving license, then they know the law regarding the minimum age to consume alcohol and the “zero” tolerance about liquor in the blood for drivers younger than 21 years. Regarding speeding, it is important to make them understand that this is something that we see in movies. In movies, there is a controlled environment.
It is also recommended that your child starts driving with a learner’s permit. Driving is a complex skill that has to be practiced in order for it to learn properly; for this reason, it is important that they start driving within certain limits. These learner’s permits provide limited schedules where driving is authorized and they require the company of an adult, this allows for more parental involvement in the learning process.