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NHTSA Offers Advice on How Parents Should Speak with Teens About Safe Driving

The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year is known as the “100 Deadliest Days” for teen driving. It is during this time of year that teens are out of school and on the roads. These leads to a lot of car accidents, some of them involving serious bodily injury or death.

There are a lot of reasons for this annual increase in teen driving accidents, including teens not wearing seatbelts, riding with more passengers than the car was designed to handle, and underage drinking of alcohol combined with driving. With respect to extra passengers, it should be noted that it is never safe for anyone, whether it is an adult or a child, to ride as a passenger in someone else’s lap, or to have anyone riding in the bed of a pickup truck or cargo area of an SUV. These areas are extremely dangerous, and there is no safety mechanism in place to prevent injuries to these extra passengers.mCKICfA

While we are no longer in the middle of the 100 Days, it is always a good time to focus on teen driving safety. It is for this reason that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has started a new campaign to help parents teach their kids how to avoid unnecessary risks and drive safely.   This campaign kicked off during the last week of October, which coincides with National Teen Driver Safety Week.

NHTSA suggests that parents talk about safe driving with their teens every day. While it is normal for a teen to say they already know everything and not want to listen, it is important to make these talks a daily event.   Essentially, when teens take the writing test when applying for their learner’s permits, they learn the rules of road in terms of what Massachusetts General Laws dictate. However, what the parents are supposed to teach their kids is how to drive safely in practice and not just on a written test.

There are five specific rules that NHTSA is stressing, which they have dubbed the “5 to Drive” rules. The first rule is no drinking and driving. While it is already illegal for anyone under 21 to drink, we know this is not strongly followed by many teens, and many of the fatal car crashes in Boston with teen drivers have involved drunk driving.

The second rule, and this really pertains to all drivers, not just teens, is no cellphone use while driving. This includes texting while driving, which may be as dangerous as drunk driving. You cannot drive safety if you are not looking at the road ahead.

The next rule is to always wear a seatbelt. Every time we look at news, we see articles about how someone was ejected from a car during an accident. The vast majority of cases involve a victim who was not properly restrained with a fastened seatbelt.

The fourth rule in the set of five is not to speed. Speeding was a factor in over 40 percent of all accidents that involved drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 in 2013 alone.   This cannot be stressed enough.

The fifth and final rule parents should teach their children in order to avoid serious car accidents is not to ride with any unnecessary passengers. These “extra passengers” are not more than the car can safely hold, but any unnecessary passengers. The more teens in one car, the more likely the teen driver will crash.

If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

NHTSA encourages parents of teens to join the ‘5 to Drive’ campaign, October 19, 2015, NHTSA

More Blog Entries:

Massachusetts Drivers Rated Poorly in Terms of Serious Car Accidents, Sept. 6, 2015, Boston Car Accident Attorney Blog