Sunday, September 14, 2014

Eco-Friendly, Or... Four Major Contributions to Teen Accidents

[This guest post is from Holly Chavez, a frequent contributor to the Clean Air Watch blog]

Carpooling may be second nature to you. You may think nothing at all about picking up fellow co-workers or neighbors who need a ride to work each morning. In fact, you probably even take pride in your contribution to making the environment cleaner.
What may not be surprising, really, is that your newly licensed teenager may want to mimic your behavior by carpooling with his or her friends. But wait. Before you allow your teen to follow in your Eco-friendly footsteps, you should be aware and warn them about the following behaviors which contribute significantly to driving accidents among their peers in today’s world.

1. The Invincibility Factor
Even if your teenager takes driver's education and gets a license, he or she may not yet be ready to take to the road unsupervised. Teens often feel like they are invincible and tend to be more willing to take risks while driving. In fact, studies show that the critical decision-making skills for safe driving often are not fully developed until a person reaches the age of 25.

That said, inexperience remains one of the biggest contributors to teenage distracted driving today. Before you allow your teen to drive, let alone carpool, you should make sure that they have honed the decision making skills to stay safe.
2. Distracted Driving Tendencies

It seems like every teenager alive today has a cell phone. Other mobile devices like a GPS or MP3 player can also contribute to many teen driving accidents today. Despite a massive public awareness campaign, many teens continue to ignore the warnings and will often text, make calls and surf the web while behind the wheel.
Your teenager should understand the risks involved in using these devices while in the driver’s seat. What many teens should be taught to understand, also, is that the police will do a thorough investigation and WILL be able to tell if a cell phone has been used in an accident. The sooner an accident is investigated the better, too, and parents should implement punishments or loss of driving privileges if they are caught using a device while driving.

3. Not Ready for Night Driving 
As an adult, you may appreciate how difficult it can be to drive after dark. Low visibility, the glare of oncoming headlights, coupled with inexperience and distractions, makes them even more susceptible to an accident while driving at night.

Until your teen is more confident about driving in general, you might want to prohibit them from driving at night without proper supervision. Additionally, your child should not be allowed to carpool at night until you are truly confident that everyone in the car will get to and from their destination safely.
4. Letting Friends Tag Along

Carpooling is a great way to benefit the environment, but research from the National Safety Council indicates that teen driving and carpooling don’t mix very well when kids are learning to drive. Having passengers in the car can also cause your teen to have a wreck.
Indeed, statistics show that anywhere from 48-66% of all teen accidents occur when more than one passenger is in the car with the driver. Teen passengers tend to interfere with the driver’s concentration, with their conversation, music, and sometimes erratic and fun loving behavior.

While your teen’s intention may be noble, this young driver should be monitored and even restricted when it comes to these dangers. You may also be well advised to devise a contract outlining your expectations for their driving regimen. Be sure to follow through with any stipulated punishments or loss of privileges - no consequences will lead them to think the rules aren’t really that important.

Author Holly Chavez telecommutes for her job and has often carpooled in the past. A lot of parents have no idea how dangerous carpooling is for their teenagers who are learning to drive. Be sure to keep the communication lines open and support your new teen while they are developing conscientious driving habits.

© Elenathewise -


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