Teen driver

Fast Facts About Teens & Distracted Driving

Plus, simple ways to guide young drivers in the right direction.

Accidents, or unintentional injuries, are the leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15 to 19. Sadly, many of these accidents involve teen drivers.

Even though teens recognize that talking or texting on a cell phone or using social media while driving is unsafe, they often engage in these risky behaviors anyway.

A recent survey conducted by the CDC analyzed driving behavior among U.S. high school students…and the results may (or may not!) surprise you:

  • 39% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days texted or emailed while driving on at least one of those days.
  • Texting or emailing while driving was more common among older students than younger students.
  • Texting or emailing while driving was as common among students whose grades were mostly As or Bs as among students with mostly Cs, Ds, or Fs.
  • Students who texted or emailed while driving were also more likely to report other risky behaviors like not wearing a seat belt or drinking and driving.

How to Help Teens Prepare…

Yes, it’s true: driving practice strains communication for many parents and teens. But adults can make driving practice more effective and less fraught with a few simple tips:

  • Share the facts. According to the CDC, the risk of a motor vehicle crash is higher among teens aged 16 to 19 than among ANY other age group. Crash risk is particularly high during the first months of licensure.
  • Mix things up! Driving practice shouldn’t be reserved for perfect weather or ideal driving conditions. Have teens practice on progressively harder roads, from quiet streets to busy highways. Practice at night and in rain or snow.
  • Practice what you preach. Model and encourage good behavior. Your teen will be paying closer attention to your driving now, so make sure you’re setting a good example.
  • Keep the focus on the road. Driving practice may seem like a convenient time to bring up conversations about grades or chores, but these subjects can make practice more tense and…more distracting!
  • Critique with care. Broad criticisms like “You’re always driving too fast” or “You never listen” lack specificity to correct the behavior. Instead, engage young drivers in conversation that allows them to explore their own decision-making process. For example, if a teen rolls through a stop sign, a parent might say, “Tell me about how you handled the intersection back there.”

Parents and mentors can also help keep young drivers safe by learning more about local laws specific to teen drivers:

  • CLICK HERE for a state-by-state list of distracted driving laws.
  • CLICK HERE for graduated licensing laws by state.

You can help teens avoid dangerous driving habits—talk to the young people in your life about the dangers of distracted driving.

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