Teen drivers: Making rules for their own protection

Danger seat: Are there steps that can be taken to help lower higher-than-average rates of teen driving accidents and fatalities? It's a good question in Minnesota, where there's been a spike in the number of teen road fatalities this summer.
Danger seat: Are there steps that can be taken to help lower higher-than-average rates of teen driving accidents and fatalities? It's a good question in Minnesota, where there's been a spike in the number of teen road fatalities this summer.
It hasn’t been a very good summer in Minnesota for teen driving fatalities. Seven young drivers or passengers in cars driven by teens have died since June 23.

And while we take a lot of pride in Minnesota about being a national leader in rankings for education, health and voting participation, we’re actually one of the national leaders in the percentage of teens who die in traffic accidents. To top that all off, Minnesota is just one of five states in the country that doesn’t have a teen driving curfew and/or restrictions on the number of passengers outside of family members a teen driver can have in a vehicle.

Here are some quick stats that the Star-Tribune reported over the weekend.

• In 2006, the age group of drivers with the most deaths in Minnesota was 15-19, with 70 people killed. No age group 30 or older had more than 40 deaths.
• Teens make up only seven percent of Minnesota’s drivers but are involved in 14 percent of the crashes.
• Overall traffic accident statistics show that one in eight teen drivers are involved in an accident each year in the state.

Past action by the legislature has put on some restrictions on teen drivers. For several years now Minnesota has had a graduated driving license law that includes these provisions:
• New drivers can’t use a cell phone while on the road.
• All passengers in a car driven by a teen need to be seat-belted.
• Must complete one full year of driving without an alcohol or crash-related violation before they can get a standard driving license.

So what, if anything more, should be done?

Would a curfew curtail a lot of teen driving problems? Most the fatalities listed above happened at late-night or early-morning hours of the day. Or would many teens thumb their nose such rules?

The other common method that states use to deal with the situation is to restrict the number of non-family members in the car while a teen is driving. The thinking is, fewer friends in the car will make for fewer distractions to the driver and more attentive driving. Others say that kind of rule will simply divide up teen drivers between more cars.

What do you think? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

CarlyS's picture
CarlyS says:

Teen Driving statistics are staggering. Most states have enacted better graduated teen driving laws which have had a positive impact. But statistics show that inexperience is still one of largest causes in new driver crashes. I recently saw this article on the Weary Parent site and thought it was worth sharing. It is a possible simple solution to help experienced drivers be aware that a new driver is behind the wheel.

Rookie Driver - Keeping New Drivers Safe

One of the best ways to help keep new teen drivers safe is by giving them a way to be identified as new drivers by others on the road. It has been a long standing tradition in Europe to identify cars being driven by “Learners” with a very easy to identify “L” sticker. By alerting other drivers on the road of the new drivers, experienced drivers can give them more room, be more cautious and a little more understanding when minor courtesy mistakes are made.

Rookie Driver.Net is bringing the awareness to the US, using a fun, teen accepted, car magnet that says Rookie Driver. Afterall, being “Rookie of the Year” is cool in sports, and to teens Rookie Driver is more acceptable than Student Driver or other terms.

The Rookie Driver web site also includes an entire page of teen driving safety links. Definitely worth a look if you have a rookie driver or one who is soon to be.

I just returned from a trip to Baltimore MD and saw dozens of these Rookie Driver magnets---I thought it was great knowing there was a novice driving...it made me more cautious. As an experienced driver, I'm all for being alerted of a new driver, in an effort create safer travel for all.

Source: http://www.wearyparent.com/rookie-driver-keeping-new-drivers-safe/

posted on Wed, 07/11/2007 - 10:03am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

this is good

posted on Fri, 09/21/2007 - 10:14am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

that's good

posted on Fri, 10/05/2007 - 4:06pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

nice page helps alot

posted on Mon, 01/07/2008 - 7:23pm
Safe Teen Drivers's picture

I agree with Carlys above - I think the ability identify new drivers on the road is a step in the right direction. My son will be driving next year and as a parent I am scared to death. I'm goingto be going to that Rookie Driver web site mentioned and get my son one of those magnets, thanks!

posted on Sat, 10/31/2009 - 5:33pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

It's really important for teens and their parents to keep the lines of communication open when it comes to driving. There are so many outlets for parents to use to help guide them through the "safe driving talk". A major thing to remember though, is that parents need to be setting a good example and following the rules that they plan to enforce. Teens are more likely to become a safe driver if their parents practice safe driving. A great resource for parents and teens is the Allstate Teen Driver Website. It has stats, videos, and a parent and teen safe diving contract.

posted on Thu, 04/15/2010 - 12:25pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Teens and moms are drifting far apart and that may be the reasons for teen pregnancies and other problems as well. Parents and children should have bond when they are young and they should try to keep that bond into their teenage years. This will help build their self-esteem. I don't believe that parents and children need to sit down and plan a special talk or anything like that. Teens should feel comfortable enogh to just say ,"Hey mom..." when you are in the car or anwhere like that.

posted on Fri, 04/16/2010 - 9:09am

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