Dec 12 2012

Seat Belt Safety and Teenage Drivers

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Portrait of an handsome man on his car
One of the biggest fears we have as parents is the day our teenagers get their driver’s licenses. It is a legitimate concern since motor vehicle accidents are the leading causes of death among teenagers. So how do we impress upon our young drivers why it is so important to wear their seat belts whenever they are in a vehicle whether they are the driver or the passenger?

The information and documentation is out there for anyone to read. Many families could have been spared the agony of losing their teenager in a motor vehicle accident if only they were counseled on how important it is to wear a seat belt. Their lives clearly depend on it. We should be educating and providing this information to our teenage drivers whenever the situation presents itself. Some young drivers think because they are in a big vehicle, SUV or truck they have the upper hand should they get into an accident. Studies have shown that not wearing your seatbelt can cause more severe and even life threatening injuries. Many deaths are caused by the driver or passenger being ejected from the vehicle, when in fact the initial impact would not have caused life ending injury.

So why are motor vehicle accidents the leading cause of teen deaths? Probably the most obvious is their lack of experience and the notion that teens think they are invincible. They do not look at a car as a potential death trap or a dangerous weapon. We should be more strict with our teens and limit their driving privileges until they have some experience behind them and have demonstrated to you, as parents, that they are responsible drivers.

Another issue is the many distractions a teen driver faces while on the road. They may drive with the radio too loud or have many friends in the car that are shoving a text message or phone in front of them to look at while they are driving. Friends can also pressure a teen to “be cool” and take them to a party or engage in a race with other friends. Teens do not simply have the maturity level to understand these are potentially dangerous activities and the “thrill” of the event makes it even more appealing.

While the above are factors for a parent to consider, what can we, as a society do, to insure they safety of our teen drivers and the rest of us who are on the road with them? Probably, the best consideration is to have a strict seat belt law. There should not only be a ticket involved for a young teen driver but also loss of their license for a period of time should they get a second violation. No teenager wants their driving privileges taken away. This is their ticket to freedom as they see it.

Another suggestion has been to install some vehicle devise where you could not start your car until the seat belt has been engaged. This would take the cooperation of the Automobile Industry and Government enacting such a law. Finally, insurance rates for young drivers are extremely expensive. Incentives for lower yearly rates with proof of being “accident and ticket free” may affect a teens driving performance.

William R. Rawlings & Associates, LLC,

11576 S State St, Building 401
Draper UT 84020-7122