It's no surprise that younger drivers are involved with accidents more often than older drivers. Experience and maturity positively influence so many of our decisions; what might have made sense at 16 seems unconscionable at 36 (and, in many ways, vice versa). However, looking at the age disparity in motor vehicle accidents is shocking, especially in the chart in this New York Times article. It shows just how drastic is the difference in fatal accidents resulting from teen drinking and driving compared with more experienced drivers.
Research shows that it doesn't take much before alcohol has an effect on someone's ability to drive - even well below the legal limits for a traffic offense. In this study, conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University, "Tests showed that at .04, again one-half the level of legal intoxication, drivers had trouble with such skills as skid control, crash simulation and other maneuvering tests through stationary cones," Dr. Maurice Dennis said.
If you have young drivers in your household, here are some tips on keeping them safe, from MADD. For the complete list, click here:
1. Think of yourself as a coach. Share information, and have conversations with your teen about driving. Ask questions, and listen attentively to your teen's answers. Encouragement is a powerful tool, so when your teen driver makes good decisions, cheer them on.
2. Talk about the facts about drunk, drugged and distracted driving dangers. Think of a plan together on how to deal with peer pressures and situations that can lead to poor decision-making.
3. Hold your teens accountable to the decisions they do make. Keep track of your teen, and make sure they know when they have your permission. There are many apps that can help parents and teens be accountable to each other. Here's a page that reviews a few top apps to help keep teen drivers safe.
4. Show respect and caring with your teen. Helping your teens think logically is good training for a long, successful life that does not have to be cut short by drinking and driving.
5. Be a postive role model! Setting a good example sends a powerful message.