It’s a story that has become far too common: a fatal crash involving a teen driver leaves a family and a community in mourning and grappling with how a senseless tragedy could have been prevented.
As AAA launched its “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” safety campaign earlier this year, we heard heartbreaking stories from families, including a father who lost his teenaged daughter in a distracted driving crash. He told an audience of high-school students about the painful guilt he carries, wondering if his daughter may have been influenced by watching his dangerous driving behavior.
While parents of teens recognize that their children, as new drivers, are taking an important step on the road to independence, they are also nervously aware that the milestone comes with serious risk and parental responsibility. There is no age group at a greater risk for motor vehicle crashes than teenagers. Because teens lack the experience of a seasoned driver, statistics show an increased chance for a deadly crash among novice drivers.
National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 20–26. Especially during this time, AAA works to raise awareness and seek solutions to prevent teen injuries and deaths on the road.
According to the latest AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, a nationally representative survey, more than half of teen drivers report recently reading a text message or email while driving, and nearly 40 percent report recently sending a text or email.
AAA Foundation research using in-vehicle dash cam videos of teen-driver crashes found that distraction was involved in 58 percent of teen crashes.
Parents are the best line of defense when it comes to keeping everyone safe behind the wheel.
AAA recommends that parents take the following preventive measures:
- Talk with teens early and often about abstaining from dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as distracted driving, speeding and impairment.
- Teach by example. Model the behavior that you want your son or daughter to display on the roads.
- Make a parent–teen driving agreement, setting family rules for teen drivers.
AAA encourages families to take the pledge not to drive “intexticated” by visiting AAA.com/DontDriveDistracted. We can and should make a collective commitment to modeling the safe driving behaviors we want our teen drivers to put into practice to help prevent the next tragedy on our roads. That simple commitment could save their lives and save the lives of others.
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2019 edition of AAA World.