Driving is an exciting privilege for many teens. However, it is also a serious responsibility. When you are driving, your life and the lives of the passengers, are in your hands. Drive carefully.
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control:
- The leading cause of death for youth ages 16 to 20 is motor vehicle crashes (CHP 2007).
- Two out of five deaths among U.S. teens are the result of a motor vehicle crash (IIHS 2003).
- In 2004, more than 5,000 teens ages 16 to 19 died of injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes (CDC 2004).
- The risk for motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash (NHTSA 2005).
- Teenagers represented 10 percent of the U.S. population in 2003 and accounted for 13 percent of all motor vehicle–related deaths (IIHS 2005).
- The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk for unsupervised teen drivers; the risk increases with the number of teen passengers (Chen 2000).
- In 2002, the motor vehicle death rate for male occupants age 16 to 19 was nearly twice that of their female counterparts (23 per 100,000 compared with 12 per 100,000) (CDC 2004).
- Crash risk is particularly high during the first years that teenagers are eligible to drive (IIHS 2005).
- As of January 1, 2007, teenage drinking and driving is not longer a civil penalty, but a crime (CHP 2006).
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These precautions can save your life.
- Wear your safety belt.
- Do not drink and drive.
- When riding a motorcycle, always wear a helmet -- it's the law.
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Driving defensively means not only taking responsibility for yourself and your actions but also keeping an eye on "the other guy." The National Safety Council suggests the following guidelines to help reduce your risks on the road.
- Don't start the engine without securing each passenger in the car, including children and pets. Lock all doors.
- Driving too fast or too slow increases the likelihood of collisions.
- Don't kid yourself. If you plan to drink, designate a driver who won't drink. Alcohol is a factor in almost half of all fatal motor vehicle crashes.
- Be alert! If you notice that a car is straddling the center line, weaving, making wide turns, stopping abruptly or responding slowly to traffic signals, the driver may be impaired.
- Avoid an impaired driver by turning right at the nearest corner or exiting at the nearest exit. If it appears that an oncoming car is crossing into your lane, pull over to the roadside, sound the horn and flash your lights.
- Notify the police immediately after seeing a motorist who is driving suspiciously.
- Follow the rules of the road. Don't contest the "right of way" or try to race another car during a merge. Be respectful of other motorists.
- Don't follow too closely. Always use a "three-second following distance" or a "three-second plus following distance."
- While driving, be cautious, aware and responsible.
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