A newly published report from SafeKids, an organization which regular readers know I have long supported, takes many unsettling facts about teens and cars out of the realm of hearsay. The best way to prevent teen car-related deaths and injuries is to know how and why they occur in the first place. That makes this report essential reading for every Oregon parent.
The report summary begins with an uncomfortable figure: 2138… the number of teens killed in car crashes in 2014 (the most recent year for which full data is available). On the positive side, it notes that “from 1994 to 2013, the rate of teen drivers killed actually decreased by 61 percent” adding that this two decades of progress “demonstrates the effectiveness of prevention efforts by government, industry, the medical community and nonprofits in passing graduated licensing laws, engineering safer cars and raising public awareness about risky behaviors.”
The report goes on to state that “2014, however, saw the death rate begin to increase again and early estimates for 2015 suggest that may continue.” Its main prescription is more of the kind of education and public outreach that has been so effective over time. We have all heard the public information campaigns, but it still needs to be said, and repeated often: avoid distracted driving, don’t overload the car, don’t speed and, perhaps most importantly: always buckle up and never drink and drive.
There is also the statistical fact that in crashes involving teens drivers are at the greatest risk (two-thirds of those 2138 fatalities were drivers as opposed to passengers) and that males make up three out of every four teen car-related deaths. It adds: “of teen drivers killed who had alcohol in their bloodstream, 8 out of 10 were male.”
Parents are urged to set, and enforce, family driving rules and to be good role models themselves (as I have documented in numerous blogs: distracted driving is not just a teen issue). The SafeKids site (see link below) includes a sample “Parent-Teen Driver Agreement”, drafted by the Federal Centers for Disease Control, as well as useful graphic tips aimed at young drivers.
As a parent and an Oregon car accident attorney focusing on both distracted driving and injuries to children I urge everyone to take a look at the SafeKids report.