Teen Driving Safety Guide
Getting a driver's license for the first time and feeling the freedom of the open road is something to which most people count down the days, hours, and minutes. Sometimes, that excitement can lead new drivers, particularly teenagers, to make mistakes behind the wheel.
These accidents can lead to major injuries or death for both young drivers and their passengers. It's important for new drivers to be aware of the potential dangers and distractions that can impair their judgement and their ability to drive safely, including distracted driving, passengers, speeding, drunk driving and drugs, lack of seat belt use, and drowsy driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2018, 2,841 lives were lost due to distracted driving. Of these deaths, the majority were drivers, but many were passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
The term "distracted driving" means driving while distracted by anything other than the road. While driving, a driver's focus should be entirely on the road and remaining safe while driving. Drivers can be distracted by their phone, changing the radio station, eating and drinking, or other things going on in the car.
The best way to prevent some of these distractions is to make sure that all of the settings on the vehicle are adjusted before putting the car in gear and turn your phone on silent.
- Distracted Driving Laws by State: Learn the laws on distracted driving in your state.
- Distracted Driving: Learn more about distracted driving and how to prevent it from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- End Distracted Driving: Distracted driving can come in different forms and should be prevented. Follow this link to learn about the risk factors for texting and driving.
- The Dangers of Distracted Driving: No one should text and drive. Here are some ways new and experienced drivers can help spread the word about distracted driving and the dangers it causes.
- Distracted Driving: A Deadly Mix: Multitasking is a myth. This article will give you more information on distracted driving and some science to back up this claim.
- Keep the Driver Distraction-Free: Find more advice on how to prevent distracted driving here.
Many new drivers find excitement in taking friends along with them in their car, but having more people in the car brings more risk. Passengers actually increase the risk of accidents for novice drivers; teen drivers who have passengers with them in the vehicle are two and a half to three times more likely to engage in risky behavior.
Because of these risky behaviors, studies show that the likelihood of getting in a fatal car accident increases with the number of people in a new driver's vehicle. Many states have a passenger limit for drivers based on their level of driving expertise.
- Teen Passenger Dangers: Get some statistics and facts about driving with passengers in the vehicle as a novice driver.
- The Most Dangerous Thing to Do While Driving: Distraction due to conversations with passengers is a leading cause of car accidents, even more so than texting while driving.
- Driving With Passengers: Learn more about how a passenger can be distracting to the driver.
When a driver becomes more confident and gains more experience, they are more likely to speed. However, confidence and experience do not mean that it is safer to speed.
In 2016, nearly a third of all fatal car accidents including teen drivers involved speeding. It's also important to note that bad weather, road construction, and traffic can all make speeding even more dangerous and might require you to drive even slower than the speed limit.
- Speeding One of the Top Deadly Mistakes Made by Teens: Hear from AAA on the dangers of teen drivers and speeding.
- Facts and Statistics: Teen Drivers: Get the facts about teenagers and driving.
- Speeding and Aggressive Driving: A quarter of all accident deaths happen in speeding-related crashes.
- Speeding Is a Deadly Issue for Teen Drivers: Hear from safety and driving experts on the dangers of speeding.
Drunk Driving and Drugs
Driving under the influence is dangerous for teenagers and adults alike. Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs, whether illegal or prescription, causes the driver to not have their full attention focused on the road and impairs their judgment. More than two dozen die in a drunk driving accident each day in the United States. And keep in mind that any amount of alcohol can be dangerous: Plenty of crashes happen each year involving drivers who had alcohol in their system but were below the legal limit. Drugs and alcohol in any amount, aside from being illegal for teens, can impair a person's ability to make smart decisions on the road and their reaction times.
- Understanding Drunk Driving: Learn more about the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence.
- Drinking and Driving: This article gives some information on the dangers of drinking and driving and breaks down a person's level of understanding at certain BAC levels.
- Drunk Driving Prevention: It's not entirely up to you to prevent drunk driving; there are several organizations that work to educate people on the dangers of drunk driving. MADD is one of these.
- Advocates for Highway Safety: This page provides facts on driving under the influence and ignition interlock devices.
- Drugged Driving: A large portion of fatal crashes each year involved drugged driving. Check out this article to learn about driving under the influence of drugs.
- Drugs and Driving: Learn more about the dangers of illegal and prescription drugs and driving.
It's no secret that seat belts save lives. In fact, nearly half of all fatalities in car accidents are because the driver or passenger was not restrained, and this includes adults and teenagers alike. As teenagers gain more confidence in their ability to drive, some begin to think they are invincible. This is simply not true, and a poor decision about seat belt use can be deadly. It takes very little time to buckle up, and it could potentially save a life.
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Facts on Seat Belts: This page includes information on the consequences and statistics relating to not wearing a seatbelt.
- Teens and Seat Belt Use: This article discusses motivations for why or why not teenagers decide to wear their seat belts.
- Fasting Seat Belts: The Three Seconds That Save Lives: Seat belts have saved more than 300,000 lives in the past 50 years.
- Teen Seat Belt Statistics: Not wearing a seat belt can lead to death.
With such busy schedules, it's easy to cut your sleep short. But while sleeping less leaves more time for extracurricular activities, hanging out with friends, and schoolwork, it can lead to danger for the drowsy driver and everyone else on the road. While it's difficult to track the number of crashes that result from drowsy driving, experts agree that driving while drowsy impairs a driver's judgment and ability to completely focus on the road.
- Driving Drowsy: The UCLA Sleep Disorders Center discusses what it means to be drowsy and the dangers of driving while drowsy.
- Teen Drowsy Driving: An expert in the sleep field discusses the dangers of driving drowsy and ways to make sure drowsy driving doesn't happen.
- Too Tired to Drive: Hear from experts on driving and sleep and find out some shocking facts and statistics about driving drowsy.
- Drowsy Driving: The National Safety Council gives some ideas for how to participate in Drowsy Driving Prevention Week and notes some factors that might help a driver determine if they are too tired to drive or not.
- Facts and Stats: Driving Drowsy: Get a quick list of facts and stats about driving drowsy and the consequences.