Updated: Jun 5, 2019
OK, chances are teen drivers won't want to read this. I get it. I remember my teenage years and learning to drive. My parents set the rules, and were always reminding me to drive safely. I listened and reassured them that I would be fine. I was invincible - nothing was going to happen to me. Later in life I realized the rules and reminders from my concerned parents helped me stay safe. I was lucky, not invincible.
That was many years ago, long before cars were equipped with so many safety features, and before GDL was even a thought. It was a different time back then. Very different, actually. Many more teens were being killed in crashes than they are today. We just didn't hear about it. Now we hear about it all too often.
During the 1980's, annual teen fatality rates approached 10,000. That number has steadily dropped by more than 70%. That's good news, but even one death is one too many. Today car crashes continue to be the leading killer of teens in the United States.
Did you know that for teens, this is the time of year known as the 100 Deadliest Days?
More than 1,050 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver in 2016 during the 100 Deadliest Days, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That is an average of 10 people per day – a 14 percent increase compared to the rest of the year, according to data analyzed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Now more than any other time of year it is important to understand teens aren't bad drivers, they are inexperienced drivers. And even though you think it will never happen to you or your son or daughter, consider this: the three most common driver errors, accounting for about half of these crashes, are:
Lack of scanning the roadway (that includes checking mirrors)
Driving too fast for conditions (not just rain or snowy days … sunny days too)
Distraction by something inside or outside the vehicle (yeah we’re talking cellphones, loud music, and too many friends piling in)
As parents, we want to keep our teens safe. Parents and others can help when we understand the risks teen drivers face such as inexperience, nighttime driving, and distractions that includes passengers. GDL was developed to help teen drivers stay safe by addressing those issues, but it won't be effective unless you learn about it, talk about it and enforce it.
We can help teen drivers beat the odds by staying involved as they learn to drive, gain experience and transition from new to experienced drivers.