It’s currently Teen Driver Safety Week, whose purpose is to create awareness and a dialogue for parents and their teenage children about safe practices. Considering that vehicle crashes are the leading killer of teens ages 13-19, General Motors is encouraging parents to have “the talk” with their teenagers.
“If a single disease claimed so many of our children, we would be frantically searching for a cure,” says GM vice president of Global Vehicle Safety, Jeff Boyer, during a vehicle safety conference at Milford Proving Grounds this week. “This issue has affected me personally, and the reality is that we as parents can make a huge impact on making sure our kids make the right decisions on the road.”
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of deaths for teens aged 13-19, with nearly 2,500 teens killed in 2012. Safe Kids Worldwide released a study of 1,000 teens this past June that revealed one in four do not use a seat belt every time they enter a car. Funded by a $2 million grant from the General Motors Foundation, the study revealed a myriad of reasons why seat belts weren’t being used, such as forgetfulness or lack of habit (34 percent), the distance to destination was short (16 percent), or the seat belt was uncomfortable (11 percent). About half of the 2,500 teens killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt, even though it has been shown it reduces the risk of death by 45 percent for people sitting up front.
In a finding that may be quite disturbing for parents, 49 percent of teens have reported feeling unsafe while riding with another teen driver, while 31 percent felt unsafe while riding with a parent. In fact, only four in 10 teens said they have asked a driver to stop during a potentially dangerous situation.
In another disturbing statistic, 39 percent of teens say they have ridden with a teen driver who was texting, with 95 percent indicating they think other teens have done so.
GM sponsors programs to help keep teens safe behind the wheel and as passengers:
Countdown 2 Drive: With Safe Kids Worldwide, families learn to build trust around riding in a vehicle with the objective of turning safe passengers into safe drivers. It helps families build a tone of mutual respect as kids move closer to obtaining their licenses.
Teen Driving Safety Leadership Award: The GM Foundation sponsors this award in partnership with the National Safety Council. The award recognizes the efforts of individuals and organizations who make quantitative progress in reducing the number of crashes, injuries. and deaths to teen drivers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these “Five to Drive” rules of the road:
- No cell phones
- No extra passengers
- No speeding
- No alcohol
- Always buckle up