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January is Teen Driving Awareness Month

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Keeping Our Teen Drivers Safe Should be Priority One 

By Jason Jones 

Messenger Reporter 

EAST TEXAS – Teen Driving Awareness Month is observed every year in January to spread awareness about teen driving and the risks associated with it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that every day, six teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 die in car crashes. This equates to 2,100 teenagers dying every year. We can certainly play our part in preventing such cases. 

The age factor is critical in assessing the safety of your teen driver. Between the ages of 16-19, teens are three times more likely to die in a car accident than drivers aged 20 or older, and males are twice as likely as females to be involved in crashes. 

Although teens in this age group are typically coming right out their driving education and lessons, the novelty of driving impacts their safety. Teens are reported to underestimate dangerous situations. They also tend to speed more than older drivers and allow less room between cars. Combined with the fact that teens have the lowest rates of seat belt use among all drivers, it is clear to see why this disturbing data exists.  

Now, with the imagery clearly in front of us, and some unfortunate events happening in the past, some social works organizations took the initiative to organize awareness campaigns highlighting the importance of safe driving and imposing a few strict measures to safeguard the lives of our teenage kids and others around them. Among the initiatives taken were Teen Driving Awareness Day, Teen Driving Awareness Week, and now, stressing the need to do more in this regard, we have an entire month dedicated to the issue, emphasizing the importance of the role of parents or guardians in the lives of their children. 

Parental involvement has been named by the CDC as the most pivotal and important components in keeping teens safe on the road. Below are a few basic rules of driving that should be regularly emphasized to teen drivers: 

  • Stay Alert – One of the most important things for young drivers to learn is to stay alert to changing road conditions and other drivers that may pose a hazard. By remaining alert, you can also increase your reaction time. 
  • Three Second Rule – When driving, especially in traffic, a good thing to remember is to keep a three-to-four second distance between you and the car in front of you. To measure this, pick a stationary spot on the side of the road (like a sign or post) and count to three after the car in front of you has passed it. If you reach it before three, you are going too fast. 
  • Go Hands-Free – Statistically speaking, this is the most important item on the list. Eliminating distractions inside your vehicle is essential, so all drivers should be mindful to avoid using handheld electronic devices while driving. This is also the law in Texas. 
  • Buckle Up – Texas law requires all drivers and passengers to wear a seat belt or receive a citation and fine. Teen drivers especially should always remember to wear a seat belt, as these have proven to reduce your risk of severe injury or death in a crash. The CDC reports that seat belts reduce the risk of death in crashes by 45% and significant injury by 50%. 
  • Make No Assumptions – It is crucial to never assume what another driver is going to do or how they will react to a potential hazard. If driving near other vehicles, consider scanning ahead and keeping sufficient distance between them and your vehicle. 

Although the situation has gotten better over the years there is still room for improvement. The lives that are lost in these accidents are not recoverable. Our young people are irreplaceable and everything that can be done should be done to protect their lives. January’s observation of Teen Driving Awareness Month is a valuable tool to help foster positive change.  

Jason Jones may be reached via email at jjones@messenger-news.com