There are troubling new statistics on the number of people that are dying on the nation’s roads. The National Safety Council now puts the number at more than 19,000 people in the first half of 2016. That’s up 9% over last year. And this month, we’re entering the deadliest time for teenage drivers. Back to school means a lot of new drivers out on the road. August has 360,000 kids turning 16, nationwide (the most of any month). And that means a lot of new, inexperienced drivers going to and from school. Adding into that factor, many of those are teen distracted drivers.

As parents, we have a mix of emotions to sort out. We are happy for them, and proud to see they are growing up and becoming responsible for themselves. After all, being independent is the first step to becoming an adult. Yet, in your mind, they are still you’re baby and you can’t avoid feeling worried. Just because they’ve received their license doesn’t mean they’re a safe driver.

Car accidents remain the leading cause of death among teenagers and were actually up 10% last year. 43% of teens admit to texting while driving and 35% admit to using social media like snapchat, facebook, and even video chatting. It’s still big news about the 18 year old girl who is now facing felony charges because she was snapchatting while driving at 107mph. This led to a high speed crash that left another driver with a severe brain injury. Then, of course, she took a selfie while being whisked away on a gurney. Again, not all kids can’t be expected to be a safe driver and make good decisions.

But, never fear, there is new technology designed to keep teen drivers safe. New software allows parents to track their child’s driving habits and micromanage them to keep them focused on being a better driver. Some of the newer cars have a program that will allow the parents to set a volume limit that mutes the radio until the driver and passengers are wearing their seat belts. They can also set excessive speed warnings and get a driving report that includes the following information:

• Distance Driven
• Maximum Speed
• Overspeed Warnings
• Forward Collision Alerts
• Forward Collision Avoidance Braking (hard braking)

This type of app gives them an opportunity to show their parents that they can drive responsibly. Safety advocates also encourage parents to sign a contract with their new teen driver and lay out the expectations on when they can drive (maybe no driving at night), who can be in the car with them, putting the cellphone away when driving, etc.

Riding along with your teen driver every once in a while to see how well they are driving is also effective. Especially if it is random (like that random drug test they do at work).

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Teen Distracted Drivers – Comedy Defensive Driving