by Dr. Joseph Kahn, Mercy Kids president and pediatrician with more than 25 years experience.
While the number of teens, ages 16-19, who were killed in motor vehicle accidents has decreased by nearly 6,000 since 1975, there were still 2,000 preventabl teen deaths due to car accidents in 2014. In light of that tragic statistic, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests parents create a young driver agreement with their teens, components of which include:
- Initially, do not allow your teen driver to carry teen passengers. Crash risk doubles with one teen passenger and increases with each additional passenger. Drivers ages 16-17 with three or more passengers are at more than four times greater risk of an accident. Sometimes socializing can be deadly.
- Restrict your teen’s night driving. Most crashes occur at night when visibility is limited, teens are tired and drinkers (hopefully not your child) are on the road.
- Accidents are increased in bad weather. Watch the forecast and allow your inexperienced teen driver out only initially during good weather. Gradually increase time in increasingly worse weather.
- Less than 10 percent of fatal crashes occur when driving at speeds less than 25 mph, while more than 50 percent occur at speeds greater than 55 mph. Speed kills! Limit driving to lower speed local roads at first and gradually allow driving at higher speeds as skills progress.
- Inexperience and the judgmentally immature adolescent brain are the most important risk factors for teen accidents and deaths. Teen drivers improve their skills and judgment with experience behind the wheel and with miles driven. Limit driving until your teen has the experience, skill and judgment to drive farther, faster and for longer times and with friends.
Please review www.youngdriverparenting.org, for additional information, advice and tips.