Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of deaths among 13-19 year olds. Additionally, the first year a teenager receives their license is the most dangerous. In order to help curb this deadly trend, Toyota recently released a new website, Teen Drive365, which offers facts, tips, and tests on teenage driving. In addition, Toyota is hosting interactive driving simulations and safe driving courses around the country. To help promote communication between parents and their teens, Toyota has also provided a Mutual Driving Agreement in which teen drivers agree to follow various rules of the road while parents agree to be patient, supportive, and good role models for their teenage drivers.
It is extremely important for parents to be aware of their own driving habits around their children. A recent study demonstrates that children, starting the first time they are in a car, observe how their parents drive and then mimic that behavior when they become licensed drivers. As a result, parents must encourage good habits, such as wearing a seatbelt, and avoid bad habits, such as driving distracted. In particular, teens are three times more likely to eat or drink while driving if their parents do so. In addition, studies show that parents tend to use their cellphones while driving more often than their teenage drivers.
In addition to parental influence, other risk factors such as gender, the number of passengers, and time of day play a major role in teen motor vehicle accidents:
- Males are 2x more likely to be killed in a car acciden
- The likelihood of an accident increases with each additional passenger
- Most accident occur between 9pm – midnight and midnight – 3am
- At least a third of fatal accidents involved drivers who were under the influence of alcohol
- At least a third of males killed in an accident were speeding
- Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous conditions
The first step to safer driving is to recognize your own driving habits. It should be no surprise that children are looking to their parents for guidance in driving. Being a good role model and educating teenagers on safe driving are easy steps parents can take to help save lives.