As the school year begins, many high school teenagers eagerly anticipate taking Drivers Education. Learning to drive and obtaining a driver’s license is a rite of passage for many fifteen and sixteen year olds. Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of death for teenagers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, mile for mile, teenage drivers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers. 31 percent of the teenage drivers who were killed had been drinking and 77 percent of these drivers were not wearing seatbelts. Only 80% of people aged 16-24 wear seatbelts, and in fatal motor vehicle accidents, 56% of teenagers involved were not wearing seatbelts.

Behaviors which contribute to teen-related crashes include inexperience and immaturity combined with speed, not wearing seat belts, distracted driving (cell phone usage, loud music, other loud passengers,) drinking and driving, driving at night, and driving while drowsy.

Parents talk to your kids about traffic safety early and often! Driving is a privilege and not a right. As a parent, leading by example, is the best method to promote safe driving. Set rules and consequences for your teenager, such as a zero tolerance policy for alcohol, cell phone/texting, and the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle. Send the message to your teenager to “Drive by the Rules, Keep the Privilege.”