Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Six teens ages 16 to 19 die every day from motor vehicle injuries. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.
Fortunately, teen motor vehicle crashes are preventable, and proven strategies can improve the safety of young drivers on the road.
– Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
The most common contributing factors to teen driver crashes, identified by the CDC are:
1. Driver Inexperience 5. Distracted Driving
2. Driving with Teen Passengers 6. Drowsy Driving
3. Nighttime Driving 7. Reckless Driving
4. Not using Seat Belts 8. Impaired Driving
This is the link to the pdf document from the CDC Eight Danger Zones for Teens Behind the Wheel. It gives tips to parents on what we can do to lower or child’s risk for each one of the danger zones listed above. This is part of their Parent’s are the Key program.
Parent-Teen Driving Agreement
Having regular conversations about safety, practicing driving together, and leading by example go a long way in ensuring your teen makes smart decisions when they get behind the wheel.
But there’s another simple step you can take to get on the same page about your family’s rules of the road. Create a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement that puts your rules in writing to clearly set expectations and limits. Work with your teen to outline hazards to avoid and consequences for breaking rules. Keep it on the fridge and update it as your teen gains experience and more driving privileges.
Cell Phone Use
At any given moment in the US, an estimated 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or electronic devices while driving.
– National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
MyAutoReply automatically responds to text messages with an automated response. You can select from one of their three pre-set responses or customize a new one. It has to be turned on before you drive and when you turn it off, it gives you a log of all calls and texts. All notifications are silenced when it is on.
DriveSafe.ly is an app for Android or Blackberry phones. This app reads text messages and emails aloud and sends an automated message, to let those that text you know that you are driving. It turns on automatically if your phone is synched to the Bluetooth in your car.
AT&T DriveMode is a free app for AT&T customers. This app “helps you avoid distractions from text message alerts and incoming calls while you are driving. When enabled, incoming alerts are silenced, sending text messages are restricted and incoming calls go directly to voicemail. The app turns on when it detects you are driving 20 MPH or more and turns off when you drop below 20 MPH for 2-3 minutes. Parents with young drivers can receive a text message alerting them if the app is turned off.”
THE RATE OF ALCOHOL RELATED TRAFFIC CRASHES IS GREATER FOR DRIVERS AGES 16 TO 20 THAN FOR DRIVERS AGE 21 AND OLDER
– National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH)
Did you know that the punishment for making alcoholic beverages available to a minor is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $4,000, confinement in jail for up to a year, or both.
In Texas it is illegal for a person under 21 to operate a motor vehicle in a public place while having ANY detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
• Adults and minors who give alcohol to a minor also face a stiff penalty. The punishment for making alcoholic beverages available to a minor is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $4,000, confinement in jail for up to a year, or both. Additionally, the violator will have his or her driver´s license automatically suspended for 180 days upon conviction.
• Persons 21 or older (other than the parent or guardian) can be held liable for damages caused by intoxication of a minor under 18 if the adult knowingly provided alcoholic beverages to a minor or knowingly allowed the minor to be served or provided alcoholic beverages on the premises owned or leased by the adult.
Among Seniors, almost 30% report drinking on 3 or more occasions per month.
– National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
“Underage drinkers may be at particular risk for alcohol overdose. Research shows that people under age 20 typically drink about 5 drinks at one time. Drinking such a large quantity of alcohol can overwhelm the body’s ability to break down and clear alcohol from the bloodstream.”
“It is dangerous to assume that an unconscious person will be fine by sleeping it off. Alcohol acts as a depressant, hindering signals in the brain that control automatic responses such as the gag reflex. Alcohol also can irritate the stomach, causing vomiting. With no gag reflex, a person who drinks to the point of passing out is in danger of choking on vomit, which, in turn, could lead to death by asphyxiation. Even if the drinker survives, an alcohol overdose can lead to long-lasting brain damage.
If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, get medical help immediately. Cold showers, hot coffee, or walking will not reverse the effects of alcohol overdose and could actually make things worse. ” NIH Read more.
Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
The critical signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning are:
The CDC created the Alcohol Overdose Fact Sheet. It has complete information on alcohol safety including, what a “standard drink” is in the US, symptoms of alcohol poisoning, what you should do if you suspect alcohol poisoning, etc. You can access and print this sheet by going to this link.
Blood Alcohol Levels and Physical and Mental Impairments
Virtual Bar: The effect that alcohol has on an individual depends on weight and sex among other factors. This is a handy tool that allows you to input your age, sex, height and weight to give you an approximation to the alcohol blood level you would have, if you drank a number of drinks. You select the type of drink and the number of drinks and the virtual bar will tell you how you are likely to feel after those drinks. I used this to show each of my kids at which point they are likely to feel unwell, have blackouts or be at risk of death, if they chose to drink. Here is the link to the virtual bar: Virtual Bar
Texas A&M also has a couple of tables that shows estimated and approximate Blood Alcohol Level or BAC for Men and Women. These can be printed off the website and cut to fit in a wallet. Here is the link to these http://studentlife.tamu.edu/adep.bac.
UT’s Healthyhorns.utexas.edu has information on what to do in case of excessive drinking.
Carson’s story from Aware Awake Alive. You can read Carson’s story on the Aware Awake Alive website.
After Carson’s death, Texas enacted the Texas Senate Bill 1331 or 911 Lifeline Law. This law protects a minor from being charged for possessing or consumption of alcohol if he/she is the first to call 911 to save the life of a minor or adult with possible alcohol overdose, remains on the scene and cooperates with emergency personnel.