Did you know that one in two teens will get into a vehicle collision within their first year of driving? Why is that? There are eight leading causes for teen collisions, which are also known as the 8 Danger Zones. As a parent of teen drivers, I understand how scary this sounds, but through education and practice, you can lower your teen’s risk of getting into a collision. Let’s take a further look into the 8 Danger Zones together.
Danger Zone 1: Driver Inexperience
Driver inexperience is the leading cause of novice driver collisions. New driving teens, especially those who lack ample practice time, will be unprepared when they face new situations that require faster reaction times. As a parent, the best thing that you can do is ensure that your teen practices driving, especially in different weather conditions and locations. This practice should be done in steps starting with the basics and progressing to different situations as you and your teen get more comfortable with them in the driver’s seat. By the time they go for their driver’s test ensure your teen has had lots of practice in the following:
- Freeway driving
- Driving in adverse weather
- Driving in rural areas
- Driving in heavy traffic
- Driving at night
Danger Zone 2: Teen Passengers
When your teen drives with other teen passengers in the vehicle, the risk of getting into collisions rise significantly. Rima Himelstein, M.D. (2012) states, “risk doubles with two passengers and quadruples with three or more” (para. 9). Why? Teens tend to drive riskier when with other teens than if they were alone or with an adult. So, what can you do?
Check your province or state’s GDL rules as they may limit the legal number of teen passengers your teen is allowed to drive with. If your state or province/territory does not have a limit, consider enacting a rule with your teen, limiting the number of teen passengers that they can drive with for a certain period of time when they first start driving on their own.
Danger Zone 3: Nighttime Driving
Nighttime driving poses a risk to not only teens but mature drivers as well. Driving at night restricts vision and, combined with inexperience, can lead to very high rates of getting into a collision. Ensure that your teen practices driving at night with you. At least 20% of the driving practice your teen goes through should be at night.
Danger Zone 4: Not Using Seat Belts
When a person gets into a collision while wearing a seat belt, they reduce their risk of fatality by up to 60% (NHTSA, 2020). How can you ensure that your teen is always buckling up? Educate them and set the example.
Danger Zone 5: Distracted Driving
Each one of these areas is just as dangerous as the other. Each year the number of fatalities caused by distracted driving rises. Educate your teen about the risks and consequences of distracted driving and teach them about different types of distractions.
Danger Zone 6: Drowsy Driving
Driving fatigued can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. The reason for the comparison is because your reaction times become longer. Educate your teens so that they understand and can identify the signs of being fatigued. For signs of fatigued driving, visit our blog post, 4 Summer Road Trip Tips to Keep Your Teen Safe.
Danger Zone 7: Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is another leading cause of teen collisions. According to the CDC (2020), “research shows that teens lack the experience, judgement, and maturity to assess risky situations,” which leads to reckless driving. As a parent, ensure that your teen follows proper defensive driving techniques and maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them in case of a sudden stop to avoid a collision.
Danger Zone 8: Impaired Driving
Although the number of teens who drink and drive has decreased since the ’90s, it is still one of the leading causes of collisions among teens. Education and leading by example are the two critical factors to show your teen that impaired driving is not okay. Show them the statistics and the consequences.
Ensuring that your teen is well educated about each of the 8 Danger Zones risks is crucial. Practicing driving so that your teen is confident and well prepared is another key factor in ensuring that your teen is safe. For more information on the 8 Danger Zones, check out the CDC‘s website.
CDC. (2020). Distracted Driving. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/index.html
Himelstein, R. (2012, August 22). Eight ‘danger zones’ of teen driving. The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved from https://www.inquirer.com/philly/blogs/healthy_kids/Eight-danger-zones-of-teen-driving.html
NHTSA. (2020). Seat belts. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts