Information for Parents of Young or Inexperienced Drivers

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 6,000 teens die each year as a result of car crashes. Cars are the number one killer of teens in America. But a recent national survey shows that many people underestimate the dangers novice drivers face. When asked, 56 percent of Americans suggested drug abuse as the leading health threat to teenagers. Only 13 percent correctly identified teen driving crashes as the number one threat.

In California alone, nearly 18,000 teen drivers become casualties each year. Read the Teen Drivers page from the website of the California Institute of Transportation Safety.

Click here for the 2002 fact sheet on young drivers in America. Sadly, the numbers make for gloomy reading.

As has been mentioned on other pages, the ‘Drive and Stay Alive’ website is being developed in parallel with a book on safe driving for new and experienced drivers. If you wish to pre-register your interest in obtaining this highly-detailed book, please copy the following e-mail address into your own e-mail program and give us your own contact details: editor@driveandstayalive.com

Unfortunately, the USA has a terrible record for the rate of road accident casualties (per 100,000 population) but there is much that can be done to reduce the horrendous death toll and we hope to play a part in that reduction.

As this page develops, you will find an increasing amount of information here to help parents of young or inexperienced drivers with vital and potentially life-saving decisions in respect of kids learning to drive and surviving those first few dangerous years.

In the April 2003 issue of Health Education & Behavior it was shown that Parental Rules Are Linked To Safer Teen Driving. Click here to read this article on the AAA Foundation website.
Parental rules are highlighted in the results of a survey by Britain’s RoSPA, where not only the parents but also their teenage sons and daughters were quizzed about those rules. This is worth reading, both for ideas and for background knowledge. Click here. (PDF)

Often, parents are unaware of the risks their kids face when driving, and the limits of driver education. Research says driver ed doesn’t reduce crash rates; it must be boosted with many hours of practice over a long period of time. Read the article: ‘The Deadliest Drivers Of All’, from USA Weekend.

On the same lines, the IIHS have produced some good guidelines for parents. Parts of this article are quite grim but then that’s the point, unfortunately.

We also have a link to a parents’ page in the UK, where it has to be said (with no disrespect to American people whatsoever) that the standards of driving are higher and the ratio of deaths is much lower than here in the USA, despite there being smaller cars, faster speed limits and more densely populated roads (i.e. many more cars per mile of road). This link shows that the dangers with young drivers are, none-the-less, universal and that they are virtually identical in many countries. Incidentally, the British use the word ‘tuition’ to mean the actual training. It is not a reference to financial cost. Click here to read the webpage.

You will see that three of the key points on the UK page are:

  • Having young passengers in the car increases the likelihood of a crash for inexperienced drivers. Having one young passenger in the car makes an accident twice as likely, and having two or more young passengers makes a crash 5 times as likely.
  • The accident rate to novice drivers drops by 30% after the first year of experience and by another 17% after the second year.
  • Research into hazard perception clearly shows that inexperienced drivers can be up to 2 seconds slower in recognizing possible dangers compared with experienced drivers. (‘Drive & Stay Alive’ footnote: This is supported by Australian research which shows that not only do young drivers fail to respond to a crisis situation, they also frequently ‘freeze’ with fear and are unable to protect themselves. This is the exact opposite of the ‘fast reactions’ that we all mistakenly expect from youngsters.)