If you or someone you know has a teen driver in the home, please read this and contemplate having a discussion. If that same teen is about to graduate from high school, you may want to know the facts.
Spring is underway, and we are fast approaching high school graduation—two events that can forever change the lives of our local teen drivers, their families and friends.
Teen drivers often feel the need to exercise their independence, and this, coupled with a feeling of invincibility, often occurs behind the wheel, especially when the weather turns nice.
These newly minted adults have a propensity to drive recklessly or, even worse, while intoxicated.
Many parents are unaware that the leading cause of death for teens ages 15 to 20 is automobile accidents. When others are in the same car as the teen driver, the risk of being in a fatal car crash doubles.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) 5.8 percent of 16–17 year-olds and 15.1 percent of 18–20 year-olds admit to driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year. Multiply that by the number of local graduating seniors this spring and you’ll want to rethink giving away the car keys.
And if that’s not enough, the statistics also indicate that 56 percent of all teen drivers admit to texting while driving.
You may be surprised to learn that the Suffolk County Traffic Data Study, prepared by The Institute For Traffic Safety Management and Research, reflects that in 2009, 14.6 percent of all alcohol related auto fatalities in New York State occurred in Suffolk County. Further, within Suffolk County, 22.7 percent of all accidents were the result of driver distraction or inattention, while 9.9 percent were attributed unsafe speed.
I could easily cite the names and circumstances of numerous East End teen accidents that have taken place over the last few years, but that would not serve those who made mistakes or those that have been hurt as a result of these careless actions. Instead I will appeal to the common sense of parents, friends and teen drivers alike.
The advent of spring and high school graduation are worthy of celebration. Let’s make sure that it’s done responsibly.
Have a discussion! It can’t hurt.