Getting a driver’s license is one of the most exciting events in a teenager’s life. For parents of those teens, it’s one of the scariest.
New drivers 16 to 17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for teens aged 15 to 18 nationwide, ahead of all other types of injury, disease, or violence.
“Teens simply lack experience behind the wheel,” says Jennifer Ryan, director of AAA State Relations. “That increases the odds of a deadly outcome, not just for these young drivers, but for their passengers and others on the road.”
The key to reducing these alarming numbers? “Parents are the front line of defense for keeping our roads safer,” Ryan says. By getting more involved with kids who are learning to drive and by talking about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel, parents can help reduce the number of deadly crashes on the road. If there’s a new driver in your life, it’s time to begin a potentially lifesaving dialogue to set and enforce rules, and—as always—to model safe and responsible driving.