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The NHTSA’s Strategy for Reducing Injuries and Fatalities Among Teen Drivers

If you are a parent with a teenager, we probably don’t have to tell you that getting them car insurance will cost you an arm and a leg. That’s because young drivers between the ages of fifteen and twenty years old are killed by traffic accidents more than any other cause. Trip for trip, drivers under the age of twenty are involved in three times as many fatal accidents as all other drivers combined, so the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed a strategy to prevent deaths and injuries among teen drivers.

The multi-tiered strategy will include:

• Increasing seat belt use-This is a problem for the larger driving community, not just for teens. When a vehicle is stopped abruptly in a collision, a person’s momentum throws them in the direction they were initially headed. Some of the most severe injuries that occur behind the wheel come as a result of the driver or passenger being violently thrown against the interior of their car. Psychologically speaking, teens are more likely to engage in risky activities in general, and this may make teens more likely to drive without a seat belt as well.

• Implementing graduated driver licensing-If you reflect on your first year of driving, you will probably remember making a few mistakes due simply to lack of experience. In recent years, many states have implemented graduated drivers license programs, which only allow drivers certain privileges after they have had their license for an allotted time period. Limits usually include things like driving after a specified time and the number of passengers a driver is allows to transport.

• Reducing teens’ access to alcohol-Alcohol is another problem that is not unique to the under twenty demographic, but the mixture of inexperienced drinking and inexperienced driving can be especially deadly. It is important to urge your teen not to drink, make sure that your child knows that driving while intoxicated is extremely dangerous, and be clear in stating that if they are ever put in a situation where they need to be picked up, you would rather have them call you than risk the safety of themselves and everyone else on the road.

• Parental responsibility-It is important to remember that as a parent, you shouldn’t wait until your child enters drivers training to teach them responsible driving. When you drive your child, even at a young age, you should always model the driving that you would be comfortable with them emulating. This is especially important to communicate the dangers of distracted and aggressive driving.

The inexperience of young drivers is something that can’t be remedied by a strategy, but many of the other causes of teenage car accidents are entirely preventable. Our lawyers work with injured clients everyday, and as a result we know the value of programs like this. By practicing safe driving, you can drastically reduce your risk for serious injury, but if you ever find yourself in an auto accident, know that we may be able to help you.