I missed National Teen Driver Safety Week by a couple weeks this year (it was October 15-21, 2017. If you’re totally bummed, check out this post from last year – the stats remain the same.) I was trying to think about why it wasn’t on my radar like usual. Were there a lot of other things going on in the news? Ummm….yes. But I think there’s another reason –driving doesn’t seem to be a big thing with a lot of my teen patients right now. In a totally non-scientific chart review of my 16-17-year-old patients in the past few months, only about 50% have their driver’s license (and plenty haven’t even taken driver’s ed).
Oct 16-22 is National Teen Driver Safety Week, dedicated to raising awareness and seeking solutions to preventable teen deaths and injuries on the road. In the United States, teenagers drive less than all but the oldest people, but the numbers of crash deaths in 16-19 year olds is 3 times higher than the rate for those 20 years and older. One of the most common and dangerous distractions for teens behind the wheel are cell phones. For drivers under age 20 involved in fatal crashes, 19% of those distracted were distracted by the use of cell phones. According to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 41.5% of teens self-report texting or emailing while driving in the past month.
While this may have been especially relevant to post before New Year’s Day, when accidents involving an impaired driver are at their highest rates of the year, we were on a short blog hiatus during the holidays, and – let’s be real – drunk driving never stops being relevant.
We all know that drunk driving is incredibly dangerous; that message has become increasingly clear over the last few decades. The numbers are alarming: drunk driving is involved in the death of about 30 people every day in the United States and about 17 percent of traffic deaths of children under the age of 14 involve a driver that was impaired by alcohol. And motor vehicle accidents continue to be the leading cause of death amongst young people, ages 16-25.
It is finally summer, a time for teens to enjoy a break away from school and spend time (possibly an excessive amount) hanging out with friends, making memories and cruising around town. If your teen (or his/her friends) has a driver’s license, they have (a certain amount) of freedom. However, driving is not just a privilege but it is an incredible responsibility. As my old Driver’s Ed teacher used to say, “A car is a 3,000 lb lethal weapon.” Although he was saying this to try to get us to pay attention in class (zzzzzz…….), he was right on. Did you know that accidents are the #1 cause of death in adolescents and young adults? According to the CDC, about 292,000 teens were in the emergency room for injuries secondary to car crashes and 2,650 teens in the US (ages 16-19) were killed in car crashes in 2011 alone, which equates to about 7 teenagers a day!