Did you know that teenagers are three times more likely to get into a motor vehicle accident than older drivers?
I know when teens get their driver’s licenses it can mean freedom for both them and their parents. Teens can finally go wherever they’d like whenever they’d like, without depending on mom and dad for a ride. And as parents, we can give up our parental taxi service—no more driving our kids to athletic practices, music rehearsals, and all their other activities.
While our teens might feel ready to travel the open road, we must ensure they do so safely.
Compared to adults, teens are more likely to be involved in collisions because of driving mistakes caused by inexperience, immaturity, and speeding. And every teen should know that these mistakes–especially speeding–can be deadly for themselves and those around them.
In 2012, more than 10,200 people died because of speeding-related auto accidents nationwide (up 2 percent from the prior year). In fact, speeding caused 30 percent of all fatal car crashes. In bad weather, the percentages were even higher: on wet roads, speeding was a factor in 32 percent of fatal crashes and in freezing or icy conditions, speeding was a factor in 44 percent of fatal crashes.
When drivers speed, they have a harder time slowing their vehicle, allowing them to steer safely around danger (an unexpected curve, another vehicle, or a hazardous object in the road). In school zones or neighborhoods, speeding makes it more difficult to stop in time for children and other pedestrians crossing the road.
Driving faster than the posted speed limit (especially in bad weather) dramatically increases the chances of a crash—putting passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians at tremendous risk.
Because of this risk, when our officers are on patrol, they strictly enforce speed laws, especially in neighborhoods where residents commonly complain about speeders and in areas where student pedestrians commonly walk to school. But here’s the problem: our police officers cannot patrol everywhere all the time.
So we’re asking all local drivers: please slow down, especially on our narrow city roads. Parents, please take time to talk with your teen driver about the dangers of speeding—for them and for others.
According to collision statistics, young men are more likely to speed than other drivers. During 2012, 37 percent of male drivers aged 15-20 who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the accident. And when they don’t wear their seatbelts, accidents are even more dangerous. Drivers aged 16-24 don’t wear their seat belts as often as other age groups, and more than half of vehicle occupants killed in 2012 were not wearing a seat belt.
If these numbers haven’t scared you—maybe because they don’t seem personally relevant to you—consider this: nationally, 86 percent of all speeding-related traffic fatalities occurred on local roadways (not highways). We don’t want those fatalities here and educating young drivers can significantly reduce these speeding-related accidents.
There are a number of great websites that can help parents talk with their teens about the dangers of driving. Two great places to start are the www.driveithome.org website, which is sponsored by the National Safety Institute, and the www.iihs.org website, sponsored by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Both sites offer videos for parents and teens to watch together, as well as information about the common causes of collisions and driving tips to help keep your teen safe.
At UPD, our goal is to save lives—to make Ukiah safe.
Please remember there is a reason for posted speed limits, and teens (and even adults) need to know that our driving behaviors can impact us all. So please slow down, and if you have a teen in the house, take some time to discuss driving safety.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com