Top driving risks for teens

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 3, 2007

Maryanne Law, Families First


Do we know what the top driving risk factors are for teen drivers?

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Public Safety statistics show six top driving risks for teens:

&8212; Inattentiveness &045; driver inattention/distraction is the most common contributing factor in multiple vehicle crashes.

&8212; Excessive speed &045; illegal/unsafe speed is the most common contributing factor in single vehicle crashes for drivers. (Teens particularly have difficulty adjusting speed to driving conditions.)

&8212; Failure to wear a seat belt &045; properly wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger occupants by 45 percent in a car and 60 percent in a light truck.

&8212; Fatigue &045; a person who has been awake for 24 hours experiences impairment nearly equal to a blood alcohol concentration of .10 percent. (Teens often don&8217;t get enough sleep.)

&8212; Not checking traffic before pulling out &8212; most crashes involving teens occur at intersections because of their inexperience judging distance and speed.

&8212; Driving with other teens &045; the presence of passengers strongly increases crash risk. For teen drivers, the more passengers, the greater the risk.

The leading cause of death for Minnesota&8217;s 15-17 year olds is traffic crashes. Few relationships in human behavior are as simple and clear as that between age and crash involvement. Crash involvement decreases with age and driving experience. It is imperative that our teen drivers are &8220;buckling up&8221; their seat belts, as drivers and as passengers. To reinforce driving safety precautions, why not spend 15 minutes quizzing family members about driving risk facts? Two last facts: 77 percent of vehicle passengers in a serious crash who were buckled up, survived the crash; yet nearly one in five Americans (19 percent nationally) still fail to regularly wear their seat belts when driving or riding in cars. Decide that your family will help increase the national average.

If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/L&8217;nea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out

Maryanne Law is the executive director of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin.