Family Health

6 Teen Driving Hazards

Published: May 28, 2019

Driving is the No. 1 risk to teenage safety.

Nationally, about 2,400 teen drivers ages 16-19 lose their lives in car crashes, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In Nebraska, teen drivers represent about 7% of all the state’s drivers, yet they account for 21% of crashes, according to 2017 data from the Nebraska Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office.

While those statistics may be alarming, there are things parents can do to help keep teens and others safe while on the road.

Know the hazards

Being aware of these six key hazards and educating your teen about them can make a huge difference.

Hazard No. 1: Inexperience

Drive with your teen for at least six months before letting them go out on their own. Vary the time of day, the type of road and the weather conditions, and advise your teen about dangerous conditions. Try to spend at least 30 hours in the car before they go solo. I know it can be stressful, but try to coach – not criticize.

Hazard No. 2: Night driving

Nearly half of all crashes happen between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. Ask your teen to be off the road by 9 p.m. for at least the first several months.

Hazard No. 3: Seat belt use

Most teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were not wearing seat belts. Insist that your teen buckle up. Set a good example and wear yours, too! Not buckling is a secondary offense in Nebraska. That means law enforcement can issue a ticket if a driver is pulled over for a separate violation, like speeding.

Hazard No. 4: Extra passengers

When teens drive with other teens in the car, the risk of an accident goes up. Follow the state’s graduated driving laws by limiting the number of people your teen drives with.

Hazard No. 5: Speeding

Crashes often involve speeding. Teens may underestimate the danger of speeding and overestimate their ability to slow down in time.

Hazard No. 6: Distracted driving

You see it all the time, but that does NOT make it OK. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. If a vehicle is going 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an ENTIRE football field with your eyes closed!

Parent power

When your children were small, you protected them. Germs, strangers and the danger of crossing the road were just a few of the things you guarded your kids from.

The dangers that driving poses to your teenager are just as serious and just as real.
As the parent of a teen, your active involvement in teaching and coaching your new driver will help keep them safe – and teach lifelong safe driving habits.

More resources

About the Author

Dr. Ryan Isherwood specializes in family medicine at Methodist Physicians Clinic. He enjoys the opportunity to see patients of all ages – often members of an entire family.

See more articles from Ryan Isherwood, MD
Photo of Ryan Isherwood, MD