If you have ever parented a teenager, you know that teens like to learn things on their own. In fact, becoming autonomous is a critical part of being a teenager, as teens move toward becoming full-fledged, productive members of society. Given this trait of burgeoning independence, how can parents and governmental entities best help teenagers avoid serious driving risks?
The Centers for Disease Control reports that car accidents are the leading killer of American teenagers. Teen drivers are new drivers, and this certainly affects their safety on the road. Many experts believe that the best way to help teenagers avoid highway risks is to engage them in educating one another.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that teen crash fatalities dropped between 2000 and 2010. However, teen accident rates are still higher than accident rates for other groups.
Several states have adopted programs designed to engage teens not only in discussing the risks of driving but in doing something about them. California is no exception.
California adopted a program known as “Teens in the Driver Seat.” This “is a peer-to-peer safety program for America’s youth” that focuses on educating teens about the “top five dangers” that lead to crashes:
- nighttime driving;
- racing and speeding;
- impaired driving; and
- low seatbelt use.
Teenagers lead the program, including educational components and contests. The hope is that the program will give teenagers the information they need to make smart decisions when it comes to driving.
The program started in Texas, where it has had fantastic results. There, program participants are up to 200% more likely to be aware of risks to driving safely. This awareness appears to be affecting the bottom line in Texas, as there has been an “average decrease of 14.6 percent in injury and fatal crashes” in counties that have used the program for at least three years.