One of the most dreadful occasions for a parent is that dreaded phone call or middle of the night visit from a police officer saying that a child has died in a car wreck. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of American teenagers ages 15 through 19.
"The main characteristic of fatal crashes for young drivers is driver-error caused by talking on the cell phone, texting, inattention and fatigue," said Izard County Sheriff Tate Lawrence. "Following driver-error, having multiple passengers in the vehicle is a factor in fatal crashes as well as alcohol-impaired driving."
Twenty five percent of young drivers' crashes in 2008 had a blood alcohol content. The legal limit for minors in Arkansas is .02 percent. Forty-one percent of young drivers killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts and the greatest occurrences of teenage deaths occur between 9:00 p.m. and midnight. Sheriff Lawrence also said that for young drivers, alcohol involvement is higher among males than females.
A recent study showed that teens who reported that their parents set rules and paid attention to where the teens were going and with whom, were half as likely to be involved in a crash and were twice as likely to wear seat belts. They were also 71 percent less likely to drive while intoxicated and were 30 percent less likely to use a cell phone while driving.
Many of these fatal accidents are preventable. Avoiding alcohol, wearing seat belts, avoiding cell phone use and just simply paying attention will drastically reduce the number of teenage fatalities. With graduation and summer vacation just around the corner, now is the perfect time sit down with your teenager and discuss the risks involved.