More teens die in motor vehicle crashes each year (about 2,500) than from any other cause of death. Fatalities are split almost equally between teen drivers and passengers.
In half of the fatal crashes, the teen was not wearing a seat belt. To develop strategies to reduce the number of teens killed in cars, Safe Kids Worldwide conducted a survey among teen passengers and drivers.
One in four teens surveyed said they don’t use a seat belt on every ride. The top reasons they gave for not buckling up were that they forgot, or it was not a habit (34 percent); they were not going far (16 percent); or the seat belt was uncomfortable (11 percent).
“We need to encourage everyone to buckle up on every ride, every time,” said Helen Lehman, Safe Kids York County. “It only takes one time to forget to buckle up for a life to be changed forever.”
The survey also addressed the perilous practice of distracted driving. Thirty-nine percent of teens said they have ridden with a teen driver who was texting, and 95 percent said they think other teens have ridden with drivers who were texting.
Teens who don’t always use seat belts are also more likely to report that they text while driving than those who say they wear a seat belt every time. About 43 percent of teens reported riding as a passenger with a teen driver who was talking on a phone.
When asked what teens did in a situation when in a car with someone driving dangerously, four in 10 teens said they asked the driver to stop. But, almost the same number said they did nothing.
“It can be a challenge to speak up when you feel unsafe riding in a car, especially in a car filled with teens,” said Lehman. “But we all need to buckle up every time.”
Lehman provided the following tips for families:
- Buckle up on every ride, every time. This is important for everyone, both drivers and passengers.
- Be a role model in your driving habits.
- Talk to teens and kids about ways to speak up if a driver of any age isn’t driving safely.
For more information, visit http://www.safekidsyorkcounty.org/.