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Front Page » March 28, 2002 » Opinion » Cut traffic risks for teen drivers, passengers
Published 4,501 days ago

Cut traffic risks for teen drivers, passengers


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By TOM LEE
USU Extension

The drivers most at risk for accidents are also the young Utahns headed to proms and parties, with our daughters as passengers.

More females will be passengers of male teenage drivers on prom night than any other time of year.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records show that, in automobile accidents involving 16-year-old drivers, 48 percent of deaths were passengers.

In addition, the federal agency's data indicate that slightly more 16-year-old females were killed as passengers than as drivers.

Speeding, alcohol use, multiple passengers and driving between midnight and 3 a.m. are identified as major factors in the deadly traffic accidents.

Statistics show that in the year 2000, 34 percent of male drivers involved in fatal traffic accidents were speeding.

And 23 percent of the speeding drivers involved in the crashes were also intoxicated.

Between midnight and 3 a.m., 77 percent of speeding drivers in fatal accidents were intoxicated.

Carbon County parents who want to reduce the risk of their children's involvement in a motor vehicle accident should do the following:

•Limit the number of passengers your teen is allowed to transport.

The risk of a car crash goes up exponentially with each passenger added.

•Tell your teen not to drink and drive.

Be sure to lead by example.

Teens are sensitive to hypocrisy.

Youth determine their behavior by what they observe in their parents, not by what the parents say.

•Insist that teenage drivers and all passengers traveling inside the motor vehicle wear seatbelts.

Again, parents must set the proper example by wearing seatbelts, too.

•Check your vehicle's brakes and brake fluid.

While teens are traditionally more interested in how fast a vehicle can go, parents should be interested in how well the car can stop.

Make sure your vehicle is in top mechanical shape if your teenager is climbing behind the steering wheel.

•Do not allow teenagers to drive after midnight.

If transportation to or from a youth activity is required after midnight, parents should make other arrangements for their teens.

Call a taxi, arrange to car pool with other parents or act as chauffeur.

It is better for a parent to lose a night's sleep than the life of a child.

•Concern yourself with teen driver safety 365 days a year.

Even though prom night occurs in the spring, most fatal car crashes actually occur during the summer months.

•To ensure safe driving year round, parents and teens are encouraged to participate in programs specifically designed to reduce accident risks.

For example, the "I Promise Program" encourages parents and teens to enter into a safe driving contract and provides a means for mutual accountability.

Parents of females should insist that the boys who are driving their daughters become involved in the program.

For information on the program and for registration forms, Carbon County residents may visit the website www.ipromiseprogram.com.

The program has been developed with the input of thousands of people from organizations worldwide.

Take time to participate in it or a program like it.

It could save your child's life.

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