Let’s Keep California Teen Drivers Safe Behind the Wheel
National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 18-24
Sacramento – This week, October 18-24 is National Teen Driver Safety Week and it is a great time for California teenagers and parents to talk to one another about how teenagers can travel safely on the roads, streets and highways. This week – and every week, parents should have conversations with their teens about the important rules they need to follow to stay safe behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Self-reported surveys show that teens whose parents set firm rules for driving typically engage in less risky driving behaviors and are involved in fewer crashes.
The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), in partnership with the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is reminding all young motorists to focus on the road to help increase safety for everyone.
The greatest dangers for teen drivers are alcohol consumption, inconsistent or no seat belt use, distracted driving, speeding, and driving with passengers in the vehicle. Throughout the week (Oct. 18-24), the OTS offers tips to parents and caregivers on how to talk to teens about the consequences of making dangerous and illegal choices behind the wheel.
According to the OTS
- The number of California teen motor vehicle fatalities (age 16-19) increased 21.4% from 168 in 2017 to 204 in 2018.
- The number of California teen driver fatalities (age 16-19) decreased 15% from 106 in 2017 to 90 in 2018.
“All of us can play a role in helping to bring these tragic numbers down by encouraging teens to practice safe driving habits and really focus on the road,” says ABC Director Eric Hirata.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens 15 to 18 years old in the United States. In 2017, there were 2,247 people killed in crashes involving a teen driver (15 to 18 years old) and an estimated 93,000 teen drivers injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Parents can help protect their teen drivers by talking with them about these risks.
To help reduce the risks for teen drivers follow these basic rules:
- Impaired Driving: All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol. However, nationally in 2017, 15% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system.
- Seat Belt Safety: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. Yet too many teens aren’t buckling up. In fact, there were 539 passengers killed in passenger vehicles driven by teen drivers, and more than half (60%) of those passengers who died were NOT buckled up at the time of the fatal crash.
- Distracted Driving: Cell phone use while driving is more than just illegal, but also risky — it can be deadly. Drivers under 18 are not allowed to use a phone for any reason, including hands-free.
- Speed Limits: Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially for teens. In 2017, more than one-quarter (27%) of all teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash.
- Passengers: The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers.
Whether it’s impaired driving, not wearing a seat belt, speeding, driving distracted or with friends in the car, it’s important for parents to let their teen know that driving is not a right, but a privilege. It can be taken away when they don’t follow the rules.
For more information about National Teen Driver Safety Week and to learn safe driving tips to share with your teens, visit NHTSA’s website.
The mission of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is to provide the highest level of service and public safety to the people of the State through licensing, education, and enforcement.
ABC is a Department of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.