Health In Focus
Highlights :
  • Road accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers
  • Distractions such as using cell phones to call or text, adjusting radio, and talking to co-passengers, are some of the leading causes of teenage road accidents
  • Parents should openly communicate with their teenagers and establish the consequences of bad driving and rewards for responsible driving

Road accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers. Most crashes happen late at night and during the weekends.

"But during these summer months, when parents are less likely to enforce curfews, every night can carry the same risk," says Jodi Yocum, nurse manager with the Emergency Department Observation Unit at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and interim program manager for Penn State Health Life Lion Critical Care Transport.
Teenage Driving: Tips to Ensure Safe Driving

Empowering Better Health

Teenagers are most prone to accidents within the first 365 days of getting the license.

Kimberly Patil, injury prevention and outreach coordinator with trauma services at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, said: "Within that first year of driving on their own, we see a lot of accidents. They no longer have that parent in the car saying 'Look out for this."

Some Common Causes of Accidents

Distracted driving is found to be the major cause of death among teenage drivers. Cell phones or mobiles are the major source of distraction. According to research, teens who use phones while behind the wheel are six times more likely to have an accident. Teens who text while driving are 23 times more likely to meet with an accident.

Other sources of distraction include adjusting the radio, blasting music, eating and drinking, and talking to friends who accompany them in their car.

Another leading cause of accidents is drowsy driving. Between shuttling to and fro from their school, extracurricular activities, sports and their jobs, teenagers face a high risk of drowsy driving.

Teens should be careful to talk, text, tweet, Snapchat, TikTok or engage in social media activities while driving.

What can be Done?

Here are few tips for parents and their teen drivers:


Teenagers should be made to understand that along with new freedom comes new responsibilities. Parents need to communicate openly with their teenagers before they are let loose on the road. They should be reminded that driving is a privilege and establishing firm rules. Teenagers should be reminded about the strict consequences of using alcohol and drugs while driving, violating traffic and staying out past curfew time.

Conversations need not wait until after teenagers get their license. It can be had a few months or years prior to applying for learner's permit, thus conditioning them at a very early age about road safety.

Good Modeling Behavior

Children tend to watch their parents from the moment they are placed in their car seats. If parents portray rash and reckless behavior while driving like speeding or texting on the phones, children are bound to pick them up. Hence it is important to remember that the role of a parent as their child's driving instructor begins long before their child gets behind the wheel.

Patil states, "It's never too late to build healthier and safer habits. Often, parents become aware of their own faults, particularly when they're pointed out by their teens."

Education Classes for Teens and Parents

In the U.S, thirty-two states require teens to take driver's education class before they get their driver's license. These classes help parents to set rules, offer support and monitor their teen's driving thus cutting the risk of them getting into an accident by 50 percent.

The state of Pennsylvania has a rule that requires teens with a learner's permit to wait for six months and accumulate at least 60 hours of supervised driving with a parent or guardian, before they get their driver's license.

"There is less and less driver's ed offered here," Patil said. "School districts have stopped offering it, and the onus is now solely on the parents."


Being aware of problem areas can help parents and teens take the necessary steps to avoid accidents. Parents can set an example for your teen, so your teenager will follow safety measures and make driving a more enjoyable experience.

References :
  1. The Medical Minute: How to help teen drivers stay safe - (

Source: Medindia

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