Posted Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Parents: Don’t Hand Over the Keys Until Your Teen Knows the Rules of the Road

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States — ahead of all other types of injury, disease, or violence.

Morris County Participates in National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 21–27

In 2016, 2,288 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver ages 15-18. Of those crashes, 814 deaths were the teen driver, representing a six-percent increase from 2015.

As fatalities on New Jersey’s roadways climbed for the fourth consecutive year from 542 in 2013 to 634 at the end of 2017, during that period, deaths of teen drivers and their teen passengers actually fell, from 17 to 2, according to data from the New Jersey State Police.

What changed? In 2010, New Jersey improved its Graduated Driver License Law by enacting an earlier curfew, imposing a one passenger limit unless a parent or guardian is in the vehicle and adding a decal requirement to aid enforcement.

“Since we strengthened our GDL law, teen driver-involved fatal crashes have fallen nearly 50 percent from 85 in 2009 to 49 last year,” said Arnold Anderson, Leader of the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition (Coalition).  “This is significant not only because fewer teen drivers died, but also fewer people overall died.”

Before handing over the keys, parents can help their teens survive their most dangerous driving years. Parents should talk with teens about the rules of the road and reducing risks, and follow the rules themselves. Teens report that when their parents set firm rules for driving, they typically engage in fewer risky behaviors and are involved in fewer crashes.

During National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 21-27, 2018, state and local highway safety and law enforcement organizations are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to promote safety tips for teen drivers:

  • Don’t Drive Impaired. In 2016, almost 20 percent of teen drivers in fatal collisions had been drinking; 6.5 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 17 were current users of marijuana.
  • Buckle Up — Front Seat and Back. In 2016, 569 passengers were killed in vehicles driven by teens, and 54 percent of those who died in crashes were NOT buckled up. In 85 percent of cases when the teen driver was unbuckled, the passengers were also unbuckled.
  • Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel. In 2016, among teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, 10 percent were distracted at the time of the crash. Cell phones, other passengers, audio and climate controls, and eating or drinking while driving are dangerous distractions.
  • Drive the Speed Limit. In 2016, 31 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding.
  • Passengers Increase Danger. In a NHTSA study, teen drivers were 2.5 times more likely to engage in potentially risky behaviors when driving with one teenage passenger versus driving alone. Risky behaviors triple with multiple passengers.
  • Avoid Driving Tired. Even after 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep, people are most likely to feel drowsy between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

For more information about National Teen Driver Safety Week and to learn more safe driving tips for your teens, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving.

To learn more about New Jersey’s Graduated Driving Licensing law, a list of frequently asked questions, coaching tips and other information, visit DriveitHome.org.