For a teenager, becoming a licensed driver is an exciting life event. When they can get behind the wheel, it opens doors to exciting new adventures and provides freedom. With those are also newfound responsibilities. Each year teenage drivers are at a greater risk for motor vehicle accidents. In 2019 alone, 258,000 teenagers involved in motor vehicle accidents required emergency treatment, and almost 2,400 died in motor vehicle crashes.

There are eight leading causes of teen crashes and injury that parents and guardians should discuss with their teen drivers.

  1. Driver Inexperience:
    • Due to inexperience behind the wheel teens are more likely to misjudge, underestimate and experience false confidence when face to face with dangerous situations. Teen drivers are more likely to make critical decision errors than their adult driver counterparts.
    • Parents and guardians can help teen drivers by:
      • Spending at least 30-50 hours of supervised driving practice over at least six months.
      • Enrolling teen drivers in defensive driving courses. *
      • Practicing on a variety of roads at various times of day in different weather and traffic conditions.
      • Talking with teen drivers about the importance of continuously scanning their surroundings for road hazards, pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, and other vehicles.
  2. Driving With Other Teen Passengers:
      • The risk of a teenager crashing a vehicle increases when there are teenage passengers present.
      • Parents and guardians can prepare their teen drivers by:
        • Follow underage driving laws and enforce a one teen passenger rule for at least the first six months your teen driver is licensed.
  3. Nighttime Driving:
    • For everyone on the road, the risk of fatal motor vehicle accidents increases at night, but for teens specifically, this risk is higher.
    • Parents and guardians can help by:
      • Keeping teen drivers off the road after 10pm for at least the first six months they are licensed.
      • Practice nighttime and low visibility driving with teens.
  4. Not Using Seatbelts:
    • Seatbelts are proven to reduce the risk of injury and death for motor vehicle accident victims. Buckle up!
    • Parents and guardians can help by:
      • Requiring teens to always wear their seatbelt in the vehicle, regardless of seating position.
      • Talk with teens about the importance of making sure anyone who rides with them also buckles up before they hit the road.
  5. Distracted Driving:
    • Distracted driving increases the risk of accidents for all drivers but can be especially dangerous for young and inexperienced drivers.
    • Parents and guardians can help by:
      • Don’t allow teens to talk on the phone, text, or eat while driving.
      • Encourage teens to keep the volume down or off on the radio for the first six months of licensure.
  6. Drowsy Driving:
    • Younger drivers are at an increased risk for drowsy driving especially early in the morning, or late at night.
    • Parents and guardians can help by:
      • Making sure teens are adequately rested before getting behind the wheel.
  7. Reckless Driving:
    • Teen drivers often lack the reasoning skills, experience, and maturity to assess risky situations.
    • Parents and guardians can help by:
      • Ensuring teen drivers understand the importance of following the speed limit and adjusting the speed to match road conditions.
      • Remind teen drivers to maintain a safe following distance to avoid a crash in the event of sudden stops.
  8. Impaired Driving:
    • Every day 29 people in the US die in motor vehicle accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals over 44 billion dollars. Alcohol and other substances, including prescription medications can severely impair a teen driver’s ability to drive safely and increase the chance of crashing.
    • Parents and guardians can help by:
      • Being good role models. Never drink and drive. Never drive while impaired by drugs or substances.
      • Talk to teen drivers about the life saving importance of driving sober.

A conversation with teen drivers about these risks can help prepare them to be safe, responsible motorists. We can’t always be there to keep them safe, but we can ensure they are prepared for the road ahead. For more information about how to prepare teen drivers for the road, qualified driver training courses, and insuring young drivers, contact your FIFS service advisor.

*Many auto insurance companies offer discounts to new drivers who have completed a qualified driver training course. To qualify for a driver training discount, the teen must complete a 30-hour classroom course, plus a 6-hour behind the wheel course with a professional driving instructor. Certificates showing completion of both courses are required.