First observed in 2007, National Teen Driver Safety Week aims to bring teens, parents, educators, legislators, and other community leaders together to help prevent teen crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

There are several important factors that play a significant role in the incidence of teens involved in vehicle crashes. First, the leading cause of teen driver crashes is driver error or speeding. Better education is needed to inform students of the severity of a vehicle crash and the very real consequences to themselves, their passengers, and the general public of operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner.

Second, the younger the driver the more likely they are to be involved in a fatal crash. Statistics provided by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) show that sixteen-year-old drivers are more than twice as likely to be involved in fatal crashes as older drivers. By increasing the teen driver's supervised driving experience we can delay exposure to risky driving conditions until they have had a substantial level of supervision, rather than simply sending them out on their own.

Additionally, a variety of distractions – cell phones, food/beverage consumption, loud music, etc. – make it increasingly difficult for the driver to focus their attention on operating their vehicle in a safe manner. A recent NHTSA study showed that driver distraction contributes to about 25 percent of all police-reported traffic crashes. It is important to reinforce the idea that once a vehicle is in motion, the driver must devote his or her full attention to the task at hand–operating their vehicle safely.

By encouraging teens to adopt safe driving habits, managing peer-to-peer interactions while in a vehicle, and reinforcing the need to detect and react to hazards more appropriately, teens will be better prepared to drive responsibly, and our roads will be much safer.

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