National Teen Driver Safety Week: Keeping Teens Safe on the Road

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Need to Know from SafeWise
  • National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 15–21, 2023.
  • Car crashes are a leading cause of death for teens aged 15–18.
  • Over 2,600 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers in 2021—861 of which were the teen driver.
  • Parents and guardians can make a big difference in how safe teens are behind the wheel.

As National Teen Driver Safety Week kicks off, families across the country are joining forces to promote safe driving habits among young motorists. This year's theme is #RulesForTheRoad and emphasizes the importance of open conversations between parents and teen drivers, reinforcing critical rules to prevent accidents. According to recent data, motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of death among teenagers aged 15 to 18.

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Father (40s) giving teenage son (15 years) car keys.

Image: kali9

Know the facts about teen driver fatalities

In 2021 alone, 2,608 individuals lost their lives in accidents involving teen drivers aged 15 to 18, with 861 of those fatalities attributed to the teen drivers themselves. These alarming statistics underscore the need for proactive efforts to improve teen driver safety.

To increase awareness around the dangers of teen driving, the #RulesForTheRoad campaign focuses on seven key target behaviors that teenagers should practice:

  1. Wear a seatbelt: Every person in the vehicle should wear a seatbelt on every trip, every time.
  2. No speeding: Excessive speed is illegal and dangerous.
  3. No distractions: Using phones, fiddling with the stereo, and joking around with passengers while driving can lead to crashes.
  4. No extra passengers: Limit the number of passengers to reduce distractions.
  5. No alcohol: Drinking and driving is illegal and potentially deadly.
  6. No drugs: Illicit substances and driving do not mix.
  7. No impairment-causing medications: Always follow medical advice regarding driving while on medication. If your teen is getting their learner's permit, talk to their doctor in advance to learn about any potential dangers with current medications.
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Pro tip: Try a vehicle GPS tracker for safety

There's a reason car insurance companies encourage drivers to use trackers to get lower rates. A vehicle GPS tracker can help you keep track of where your teen is, but it can also help reinforce good driving habits. Look for a tracker that monitors incidents of hard braking, rapid acceleration, and speeding.

States and cities taking action

Different states and cities are participating in National Teen Driver Safety Week with their own initiatives and campaigns:

Utah

Families in Utah who lost teens in car crashes are sharing their stories to encourage driver safety. In 2022, 33 Utah teens lost their lives in road accidents, prompting the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Department of Public Safety to create the 2022 Teen Memoriam book. This book, featuring stories of those who perished, will be used in driver education classes in 140 high schools across the state.

Springfield, Missouri

Schools have been eliminating driver's education from their curriculum in Springfield and surrounding areas. Experts stress that parents must prioritize teaching their teens driving skills, not just during National Teen Driver Safety Week. One driving instructor, Dan Bracker, a former Lieutenant from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, emphasizes the importance of enrolling teens in driver's education courses before they obtain their licenses.

"It isn't a priority," Bracker said to KY3 news. "Parents don't understand how dangerous it can be out there on the roads."

Bracker and another former patrolman opened Premier Driving Academy because he knows the risks of driving, particularly for younger, inexperienced drivers. He encourages parents to get teens formal driver's education before applying for their license.

Nevada

The Nevada Department of Public Safety is committed to eliminating road fatalities and runs the Zero Teen Fatalities Program. This program encourages teens to make safe driving habits routine and asks parents to participate and attend these safety programs with their teens. The program's ultimate goal is to save lives by educating teens using practical, behind-the-wheel training.

Florida

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is launching a weeklong public safety campaign during National Teen Driver Safety Week. This campaign aims to educate teens on safe driving habits, emphasizing the dangers of speeding, impaired driving, distracted driving, and not wearing a seatbelt. Teen drivers represent approximately 5% of licensed drivers in Florida, but more than 11% of crashes in the state involve teens.

NHTSA teen driving PSA

Image: NHTSA

Parents and teen driver safety

Parents and guardians play a crucial role in shaping their teens' driving behavior. Teaching teens responsible driving habits and acting as role models are essential steps in ensuring their safety on the road. These efforts can have a lasting impact on reducing teen crashes and fatalities.

Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.

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