Safety behind the wheel is a major concern for any California parent who has a teen near driving age or recently licensed. This is for good reason – car accidents are the leading cause of death for kids between the ages of 14 and 18-years-old in the United States.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been working hard to find ways to address the problem, from advocating for cellphone bans like the one in California to promoting awareness weeks to encourage conversations about these issues among parents and teens. A current campaign instructs parents to discuss one of “5 to Drive” safety topics each day to help newly licensed drivers understand the dangers of being on the road and how to keep themselves and their passengers safe.
The five topics are speeding, alcohol use, seat belt use, cellphone use and texting, and extra passengers. NHTSA administrator David Strickland says that making choices in one of these five categories leads to many of the more than 2,000 teen driver deaths each year. For example, out of 2,105 teen driver deaths in 2011, 505 were found to have alcohol in their systems. Awareness of the dangers and frank discussions on how to make better choices and avoid harm could help prevent some of these fatalities.
Of course, other factors are often also at play when a teenager consumes alcohol before driving, such as a bartender who failed to check identification or another parent who was not properly supervising their home. In those cases the negligent third party may also be held responsible for the harm.
Source: Kansas City Star, “Campaign urges parents to emphasize safe driving with teens,” Sarah Sexton, Oct. 22, 2013.