Most teenagers are not aware of the dangers awaiting them on America’s roadways. In the United States there are more registered motor vehicles than there are drivers. Each year there are over 5,000 fatal car crashes involving teens. More teenagers are killed in a car than any other form of death related means. Drunk driving is another serious problem facing society in America. In the last 10 years a drunk driver has killed over 250,000 people. About 13% of the people killed were pedestrians. We will never get to see what kind of people they would have been or what they had to offer society.
When a teenager first gets there license they never really think about the other drivers out there on the roads. They believe in their own ability to control the vehicle they are driving, but what about the other driver? Are they as prepared as you? These are some of the questions we should ask ourselves every time we get behind the wheel. Last year over 5,500 people ranging from 16-20 years old were killed in a car accident. Less than 40% of all teenaged drivers regularly wear their seatbelts. They are also the age bracket that speed and run off the road the most. When any passengers are present the chances of getting in an accident greatly increases. One passenger raises the risk of getting injured by nearly 48% and if you were to add three or more passenger the risk of getting killed raises to 207%. This is happens because most kids tend to fool around more and distract each other more when they are in larger groups. There are nearly 10,000,000 teenaged drivers on the roads right now. With these bad habits and distracting friends we are losing one teenager every hour and a half. That equals 16 teens per day, every day.
Drunk driving has probably affected every family in the United States in one way or another. Whether someone in your family has been affected or if it is someone you know. Someone in America is killed by drunk driving every thirty-two minutes, and the number is growing every year. This doesn’t even count the 297,000 people who are injured every year. That is one person that is injured every two minutes. Traffic crashes cost the United States $176.5 billion annually in medical bills, rehabilitation services and lost wages. We are fighting a war in America and we are losing. In the last decade alone, drunk driving has killed four times as many people as the Vietnam War. Car crashes involving alcohol cost us $44 billion dollars each year. We need to look at what is most important to us in this country, our booze or our kids? On average eight kids die each day due to drink driving.
What can we do to help keep our kids safe? We can start by sitting down and talking to them. The Driver-Zed program, used with graduated licensing, developed by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has helped educate teens in the areas that pose the greatest risk to them. They have also developed a plan for parents to get involved and help keep their children safer. The plan says that parents should:
- Supervise their teen’s driving time.
- Give the teen supervised practice behind the wheel while he or she has a learner’s permit and throughout the first year of licensed driving.
- Put a limit on the number of passengers allowed in the car.
- Limit the teen’s driving time during periods of increased risk such as weekends.
- Establish a house curfew.
- Insist that the teen and any passengers wear safety belts.
- Set limits on the areas the teen can drive.
- Explain that they do not have to do everything that their friends do.
- Tell them that each time they take a drink of alcohol to think that a person dies for the result of drinking every minute.
- Prohibit the teen from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Encourage the teen to use good judgment both as a driver and as a passenger.
- Be a good role model for your children to follow.
These are only a few of the things that a parent can do to help keep their child safe in a vehicle. It’s a shame that they’re not enough.
It’s time that we start cracking down on teenage society. If we don’t do anything now, they’ll think they will have the run of the road, and that they can do anything that they please.
If we begin teaching our future generation now about the things that can result from drinking and driving and drugs, maybe they will begin to get the big picture instead of just the minute details. They will see the pain and integrity that the families go through, and how long it takes them to get over a family member’s, or a friend’s death. Hopefully we will get the point across to them. Even if it’s just a handful, every little bit counts.