Accidents involving teen drivers cost more than $34 billion in ’06. That’s billion, with a “B”. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, crashes are higher for the 16-19 year old age group than for any other. This massive figure includes $9.8 billion related to fatal crashes. Unfortunately, car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens, accounting for 36 percent, according to the Center for Disease Control. Fortunately, there is much that can be done to reduce and even prevent these tragic results. According to AAA, graduated driver’s licensing programs (GDL) have a significant reduction in teen crashes and deaths. Every state has some form of GDL, including Kentucky. There is also much that parents can do. For example, limit driving to purposeful trips with a anticipated start and finish. Parents can also limit teen driving at night, in bad weather, and during rush hour.
Driving is a right of passage for any teen. Talk frequently with your teen about the responsibilities associated with driving. Insure that your teen has the proper amount of time and instruction operating a vehicle with a parent or other licensed adult present. Don’t assume just because your teen has passed his state mandated driver’s exam that he or she is ready, willing or able to assume a position behind the wheel. The good news is the risk involved appears to decline as your child ages. The risk for accidents is twice as high for 16 year olds as it is for 18 or 19 year olds. While no amount of care can prevent all accidents, with time and proper preparation you can reduce the chance that your teen will be involved in an accident, and especially those involving a fatality.