Stats don’t lie
I was recently looking up some traffic statistics and came across some interesting information. The highest percentage of fatalities and serious injuries across Canada come from the 15 – 19 age group; even though that age group has the smallest number of drivers across Canada. Does this surprise you?
We all remember how we acted when we were teens, especially once we were with our friends. I’m already seeing that with my 12 year old son. His attitude changes immediately when he has his friends to hang with. Do you think this stays like this when they get behind the wheel of the car? Absolutely.
The latest statistics are for 2006 and it shows teen drivers account for 10% of all fatalities for drivers across Canada, but if you add the 19.5% of the fatalities from their passengers, and we’re talking a lot of unwarranted deaths. Vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for teens all across North America and not just Canada. What can we do about this and what has already been done?
Graduated licensing is a big part of reducing teen deaths. In some jurisdictions, the government limits how many teen passengers a teen driver is allowed to have during certain times of the day. I’m sure this has helped reduce the stats to some degree, but we all know there are people who want to stretch their limits of the rules. Can we, as parents and vehicle owners, limit the number of passengers they can have in the vehicle as well?
Vehicles are much safer each year, so I’m sure that has helped reduce the possibility of injuries and deaths among our teen drivers. With having frontal airbags and curtain airbags, we’re a little safer while driving. Does this mean we don’t need to wear our seatbelts? Almost 40% of fatalities across Canada involved drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts. Hello? What part of inertia do you not understand? What part of you not being able to hold yourself away from glass and metal at high speed with just your arms did you not understand?
Here’s another part of this puzzle; teen passengers have the highest percentage across Canada (and probably North America) of serious injury while riding in a passenger vehicle. What do you think causes teens to be seriously injured while riding in a vehicle? Do they fool around? Do they sit with their feet up on the dashboard? Do they not wear their seatbelt or perhaps not wear it properly? Maybe they do a combination of those things. Either way, as parents and owners of the family vehicle, we need to help them.
Ensure your teen has been properly trained to drive. Find the best driving school as far as their curriculum goes and not the cheapest. They need to learn how to drive and not just how to pass a road test. Make sure they are mentally ready to learn to drive. (Please see my previous article regarding if they are ready to drive. http://thesafedriver.ca/2009/12/03/when-should-you-learn-to-drive/ ). Set up house rules for the family vehicle. Find out who will be in the vehicle, where they’ll be going and what time they’ll be home. Make them accountable for their actions at an early stage in their lives, and they may take driving seriously.
Take an interest in them as a new driver and provide support. Talk openly about their responsibilities as a driver and allow them to show their pride in safe driving. Avoid putting pressure on them as they’ll stop listening to you and take you as a threat. Be part of their team to allow them success. Following these suggestions may allow them and their passengers to arrive at their destinations safely for many years to come. After all, you’ll be one of their passengers at some point as well.