New Orleans, Louisiana – The Sudden Impact Louisiana program at University Medical Center New Orleans is teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during National Teen Driver Safety Week, October 16-22, to promote the “5 to Drive” campaign, encouraging parents to talk to their teen drivers about the rules of the road when they are behind the wheel.
“Parents have a very strong influence on their teens, even as they grow older and become more independent,” said Bridget Gardner, RN, Program Director. “The ‘5 to Drive’ campaign offers parents and caregivers some tips and a framework to talk to their teen drivers about dangerous driving behaviors that can end with fatal consequences.”
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in teens (15-19 years old), ahead of all other types of injury, disease or violence. In 2014, 2,679 teen drivers were involved in fatal traffic crashes, resulting in 3,004 deaths nationally. An estimated 123,000 teen drivers were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
Parents can play an important role in helping ensure their teen drivers take smart steps to stay safe on the road. The “5 to Drive” campaign gives parents tips on how to talk about safe driving behaviors with their teens and address the five most dangerous and deadly driving behaviors for teen drivers: alcohol, lack of seat belt use, distracted driving, speeding and extra passengers.
NHTSA’s website, http://www.safercar.gov/parents, has detailed information and statistics on teen driving and five basic rules parents can use to help save the lives of teen drivers:
- No Drinking and Driving. All teens are too young to legally buy or possess alcohol, but they are still at risk. Nationally in 2014, one out of five teen drivers (15-19 years old) involved in fatal crashes had been drinking. Remind your teen that driving under the influence of any impairing substance, including illicit or prescription drugs, could have deadly consequences.
- Buckle Up. Every Trip, Every Time, Everyone—Front Seat and Back. Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. Yet, too many teens are not buckling up and neither are their passengers. In 2014, there were 763 passengers killed in vehicles driven by teens (15-19 years old), and 59 percent of those passengers who died were NOT buckled up at the time of the fatal crash. When the teen driver was also unrestrained, the percentage of those passengers who were not restrained jumped to almost 86 percent. Remind your teen that it’s important for everyone to buckle up on every trip, every time, no matter what.
- Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel. All the Time. – Distractions while driving are more than just risky—they can be deadly. In 2014, among teen drivers (15-19 years old) involved in fatal crashes, 10 percent were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. Remind your teen about the dangers of texting, dialing or using mobile apps while driving. But distracted driving isn’t limited to cell phone use. Other passengers, audio and climate controls in the vehicle, and eating or drinking while driving, are all examples of dangerous distractions for teen drivers.
- Stop Speeding Before It Stops You. Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially teens. In 2014, almost one-third (30 percent) of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were speeding at the time of the crash. Remind your teen to drive within the speed limit.
- No More Than One Passenger at a Time. Extra passengers in a teen’s car can lead to disastrous results. According to data analyzed by NHTSA, teen drivers were two-and-a-half times more likely to engage in one or more potentially risky behaviors when driving with one teenage peer compared to when driving alone. And the likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behaviors triples when traveling with multiple passengers.
Parents can help protect their teen drivers by talking with them about these risks. Surveys show that teens whose parents set firm rules for driving typically engage in less risky driving behaviors and are involved in fewer crashes.
Explaining the rules outlined in Louisiana’s graduated driver licensing (GDL) law and the deadly consequences of unsafe driving practices can help encourage teens to exhibit safe driving behaviors. The “5 to Drive” campaign helps parents start the conversation.
“Laws are not enough to protect these young drivers. We need parents to set the rules before their teens hit the road,” Gardner said. “We hope parents will start the conversation about the ‘5 to Drive’ campaign during Teen Driver Safety Week – but then continue the conversations—every day throughout the year—to help keep their teens safe behind the wheel.”
University Medical Center New Orleans developed Sudden Impact 18 years ago to decrease the number of teens fatally and seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes. The program has been expanded to 15 hospitals and 92 schools statewide which has impacted the downward trend in the number of deaths and injuries due to motor vehicle crashes during the adolescent years. Sudden Impact is also launching a new program next year called Sudden Impact for Parents. The program will be offered throughout the state to provide a cohesive approach to enhancing teen driving education.
For more information about Teen Driver Safety Week and the “5 to Drive” campaign, please visit www.safercar.gov/parents. For more information on University Medical Center’s Injury Prevention Program, visit www.umcno.org/injuryprevention.