Summer officially began June 21 and eager teenagers look forward to summer jobs, summer parties and school-free days.
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Most parents are not as enthusiastic as these teens. Why? Most parents by their very nature worry about their teens. And rightly so, many parents are aware that automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers across the United States. The U.S. Census Data says there are 13 million teen drivers.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the deadliest for drivers ages 15-20.
Traffic safety experts tell me the higher fatality rate is because teens have more free time and have less parental supervision, because Mom and Dad are at work. They also drive more at night, and that’s when road risks are higher, and then there are relaxed curfews as well.
According to the AAA (American Automobile Association) the hours from 10 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays are four of the deadliest driving hours of the week for teens. And during the summer, because there’s no school the next day, a Monday night is no different from a Friday night for many teens. Driving with your friends to find a party at 10 p.m. is very different from driving to school at 7 a.m. on a weekday. There’s a very different environment inside and outside the car. And distractions can be deadly. So can inexperienced drivers and immaturity.
Even more concerning are teens driving under the influence. Remember the 13 million teen drivers I was talking about? A survey done by SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and Liberty Mutual shows that 23 percent of these drivers admit to driving while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or illegally-used prescription drugs. With this high percentage driving under the influence, this means a potential 4 million impaired teenage drivers across the U.S. will be on our roadways. Of the high-schoolers surveyed, nearly 20 percent of those who drink and drive say it improves their driving, while 34 percent who drive under the influence of marijuana also agree.
Scary at best! It’s apparent that teens admit to extreme unsafe driving habits and dismiss any notion at all that they could be unsafe drivers. Do teens have a different definition of “safe,” or do we need to do a better job educating kids about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving?
Parents need to set the rules for teen driving on a daily basis. Always know where your teens are driving, who they are with and what time they will be home. No driving under the influence, no risk taking, no unbuckled seat belts, no speeding, no texting and no cell phone use period. Remember you’re the parents and you set the boundaries.
Cary Quashen is a high-risk teen counselor and certified addiction specialist. He is the founder and president of Action Parent & Teen Support Group Programs, Action Family Counseling, and the Action Zone Teen Center in the Santa Clarita Valley. Quashen may be reached by calling 661-297-8691.
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Source: Santa Clarita News