October 15-21, 2017 is Teen Driving Safety Week. Teens will be the topic of many reminders this week. Here is some of the latest reseach on teen driving. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens (15 to 18 years old) in the United States – ahead of all other types of injury, disease, or violence. There were 1,972 teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015. An estimated 99,000 teen passenger vehicle drivers were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. There are many statistics and warnings. The state of California may opt to increase the age at which young people can get a drivers license.
Teens Think Marijuana DUI Driving is OK
A new study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), reveals that a third of all teens surveyed (33 percent) perceive it to be legal to drive under the influence of marijuana in states where it’s been legalized for recreational use. Notably, 27 percent of parents surveyed believe it to be legal as well. While the survey found that 93 percent of parents think driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous, only 76 percent feel that driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous. The teen survey data echoes these findings with 88 percent of teens saying that driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous compared to just 68 percent saying marijuana is dangerous.
Overall, the study indicates that teens are receiving mixed messages about the dangers of marijuana use and driving, potentially putting themselves and others at risk, particularly with a quarter of teens (22 percent) admitting that driving under the influence of marijuana is common among their friends. Furthermore, only 73 percent of teens think that marijuana makes someone a worse driver while 88 percent feel the same about alcohol.
Data from leading national authorities indicate that these recent survey findings point to a societal misunderstanding for both parents and teens alike: that DUI of marijuana isn’t dangerous. According to a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), marijuana consumption can impair your driving skills just like driving under the influence of alcohol.
“Driving under the influence of marijuana significantly impairs motor coordination, judgment and reaction time,” said Mike Sample, MS, CSP, lead driving safety expert and technical consultant at Liberty Mutual. “Parents and teens alike must appreciate the importance of not driving under the influence of marijuana to help keep everyone safe on the road.”
Also according to the study, while the majority of parents say they are talking to teens about the dangers of DUI and marijuana use (78 percent), only 53 percent of teens recall having had these conversations with their parents.
“Parents are the most important role models for teens and have an opportunity to hold more conversations with them about the dangers of driving under the influence, whether it’s driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs that can impair driving,” said Dr. Gene Beresin, senior advisor on adolescent psychiatry with SADD and Executive Director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Starting a dialogue early and engaging teens about the dangers of driving high before they have their license can be an effective way to reinforce the message prior to getting behind the wheel.”
How Parents Can Discuss the Dangers of Driving Under the Influence
Teens of all ages look to their parents as role models. Dr. Gene Beresin and Mike Sample offer the following tips to help parents encourage safe driving practices.
Open the door for conversation: Parents should not lecture, but should talk with their teens about safe driving practices beginning at a young age. The survey found that less than half (43 percent) of teens who don’t yet have their license or permit recall a conversation about driving under the influence of marijuana prior to receiving their permit or license. Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD encourage parents and teens to use the Teen Driving Contract as a conversation starter and discussion guide. This tool covers important safety issues and is an easy roadmap for parents and teens alike to uphold family driving rules.
Set clear rules: Parents must set clear expectations with their teens. Whether their teen has a driver’s license or plans on driving with a friend, parents should make it very clear that there’s absolutely no driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It could mean a loss of their license or even their life.
Create a secret code: In case teens find themselves in a vulnerable situation, parents and teens can create a secret code together, such as a text code “222” or a safety code phrase to alert their parents that they need to be picked up with a “no questions asked” policy. Teens should always feel comfortable reaching out to their parents and asking for help in a potentially uncomfortable or dangerous situation.
Hum or Monitoring May Help Teens & Parents
Verizon reports that technology, such as Hum by Verizon, has the potential to help our youngest drivers, but it’s essential to educate them on the way technology can be beneficial in the connected car age.
82% of teen drivers say that technologies have helped them improve their driving. However, teens rate their personal mobile devices as the number one source of distraction behind the wheel (46%), ahead of eating or drinking, friends, family, music, and navigating.
Tech is often seen as a distraction on the road but in order for technology to be beneficial it requires education and interestingly, nearly 34% of teens wish they’d learned more about how to handle distractions in the car while driving from their parents or in drivers education
Hum by Verizon released new survey findings to raise awareness of teen driver safety, the needs of young drivers, and the benefits that technology can provide on the road. KRC Research conducted the survey of 1,004 American teens (ages 13-17) between Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, 2017.
More than half (57 percent) of teen drivers responded that they are just as good at driving as their parent or guardian, yet nearly three in four (72 percent) have felt unsafe on the road and cited getting into an accident (77 percent) as their No. 1 concern on the road.
Additional findings include:
Opportunity for more driver’s education
51 percent of teen drivers wish they had learned more about how to drive safely in ice, snow and wet weather.
47 percent of teen drivers wish they had learned more about how to change a tire and 44 percent wish they knew how to jump start a battery.
34 percent wish they had learned more about how to handle distractions in the car while driving, either through driver’s education or with their parents.
Teens’ confidence and concerns
57 percent of teen drivers would prefer to learn driving skills from someone other than their parent or guardian.
77 percent of teens say their main concerns on the road are accidents and 53 percent are concerned with other aggressive drivers, followed by getting a speeding ticket 42 percent and running out of gas 37 percent.
Responsible use of tech
82 percent of teen drivers say that technologies like blind spot detectors, back-up cameras and traffic alerts have helped them improve their driving.
Pledges Against Alchohol Driving
In an effort to decrease the devastating consequences, such as teen arrests, injuries and deaths related to alcohol, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) and National Presenting Sponsor State Farm® are encouraging youth to protect their futures. Teens can take a stand by taking a pledge to not drink alcohol or use other drugs under the age of 21 and to never ride with a driver who’s been drinking or using drugs.
Every October, as part of the Power of You(th)® program, MADD joins its partners around the country to host school and community events to empower teens to make safe choices. This year’s focus, #ProtectUrFuture, is about how choices about alcohol can impact their future such as, being kicked off a sports team, not be able to attend the college of their choice or lose a college sponsorship and have an arrest on their record. Tragically there are also life-altering consequences such as alcohol poisoning and teen drunk driving.
The latest research shows:
- The number of youth drinking alcohol continue to decline since 1991, when the numbers peaked. These have declined by 70 percent, 50 percent and 30 percent for grades 8, 10 and 12. However, six out of every ten students (61 percent) have consumed alcohol (more than a few sips) by the end of high school, and 23 percent have done so by 8th grade. Monitoring the Future, 2016
- Alcohol was a factor in an average of 492 suicides, 1,269 homicides, 245 reports of death from alcohol poisoning, falls, burns or drowning, and 1,580 deaths from motor vehicle crashes of people under the age of 21 each year from 2006 to 2010. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2013
- In 2011, 188,000 people under the age of 21 visited an emergency room because of alcohol related injuries. SAMHSA, 2014.
- Research also shows that the earlier a young person begins drinking alcohol the more likely they will become alcohol dependent as adults. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015
- Kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol related crash. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2001