The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has partnered with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to raise awareness during National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 15-21. As per statistics provided by NHTSA, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teenage fatalities in the United States. Shockingly, teens are involved in three times as many fatal crashes per mile driven compared to other drivers.
Recognizing the potential risks associated with inexperienced teen drivers, KYTC Secretary Jim Gray emphasizes the importance of parental involvement. Merely relying on laws is insufficient; parents must establish ground rules before handing over the car keys and set a positive example themselves.
In Kentucky alone, the Office of Highway Safety under KYTC reports an alarming number of over 44,000 crashes involving teenage drivers over the past three years. These accidents resulted in over 13,000 injuries and tragically claimed the lives of 211 individuals.
Here are six essential guidelines young drivers should adhere to:
Avoid Distracted Driving:
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver distraction is a major cause of most crashes. To ensure your safety, it’s important to avoid distractions such as using cell phones, talking to passengers, adjusting controls, or eating while driving. Additionally, wearing headphones is not recommended as they can prevent you from hearing important sounds on the road.
Wearing a seat belt is the best protection against injury and even death. Shockingly, NHTSA reports that teens are less likely to buckle up compared to other age groups. Always fasten your seat belt properly, ensuring it contacts the strongest parts of your body, such as the chest, hips, and shoulders. A seat belt spreads the force of a crash over a wider area, minimizing stress on any single body part and allowing your body to decelerate gradually during impact.
Be Cautious with Passengers:
Having passengers in your car, especially as a teen driver, can increase the risk of accidents. NHTSA research shows that the likelihood of engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers. Exercise extra caution and stay focused on the road when driving with friends or family members.
Obey Speed Limits:
Speed limits are in place to ensure the safety of all road users. Driving over the speed limit significantly reduces your ability to maneuver safely around other vehicles, obstacles, or unexpected turns. NHTSA warns that young males are most likely to be involved in speed-related fatal crashes. Always adhere to speed limits and drive at a safe and responsible pace.
Never Drive Impaired:
Alcohol, drugs, and driving do not mix. Even though teenagers are too young to legally consume alcohol, they may still be at risk. Impairment begins with the first sip of alcohol, affecting reflexes, coordination, eyesight, and decision-making abilities. Remember, marijuana and other drugs also impair your ability to safely react to road conditions. Stay away from driving if you’re under the influence.
Don’t Drive Drowsy:
With busy schedules and numerous commitments, it’s common for teens to compromise on sleep. However, driving while fatigued is extremely dangerous. NHTSA’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Study states that drowsy drivers are twice as likely to make errors in a crash compared to alert drivers. Prioritize getting enough rest and avoid driving if you feel exhausted.
To learn more about teen driving and access valuable statistics, visit NHTSA’s official website at www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving.
October 15-21, 2023 is National Teen Driver Safety Week—a time when we emphasize the importance of keeping our young drivers safe on the road. While we sincerely hope that you never require our assistance, we want you to know that Kaiman & Crahan are always here to support you and your loved ones in the unfortunate event of a motor vehicle accident.