Seat belts are known to save thousands of lives every year. For instance, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that seat belts saved almost 13,000 lives in 2009 and, if all drivers and passengers had worn seat belts that year, another 4,000 lives would have been saved.
Unfortunately, seat belts are not always used with regularity. A new report from Safe Kids Worldwide reveals that one out of four teens does not wear a safety belt every time riding in a car. According to an article in Safety and Health Magazine, the report was funded as part of a $2 million grant from the General Motors Foundation and surveyed 1,000 teens about their habits as drivers and passengers. One-third of teens surveyed who admitted to not using a seat belt every time in the car said that it was because they forgot or because buckling up is not a habit. Other reasons for lack of seat belt use included: short trips (16 percent) or that the safety belt was not comfortable (11 percent).
Each year, approximately 2,500 teens die in car accidents, making it the primary cause of death for teenagers, Safe Kids Worldwide stated in a press release. Fatalities are split almost equally between teen drivers and teen passengers, with half of all fatal car accidents involving a teen who was not wearing a seat belt.
Distracted driving is also a common problem for teen drivers. Thirty-nine percent of teens surveyed said they had been a passenger in a car with a teen driver who was texting, and 28 percent reported riding in a car with a parent who was texting.
“No one starts their day anticipating that they’re going to get into a car crash. But we all know that it only takes one time to be riding in a vehicle without buckling up for a life to be changed forever,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, said in a press release. “This survey illustrates that we must be even more vigilant in our efforts to reach teens with messages that will resonate so they understand the importance of buckling up every ride, every time.”
Safe Kids Worldwide offers the following suggestions to help families improve teen driving habits and enhance passenger safety:
- Buckle up on every ride, every time.
- Talk with teens about how to speak up if a driver (of any age) is not being safe.
- Be a role model in all of your driving habits.
Additionally, parents should encourage their teen drivers to:
- Limit the number of teen passengers. Research shows that a teen driving with just one teen passenger is 44% more likely to be in a fatal auto accident, and the risk increases even more when there are two or three teen passengers in the car. Accordingly, parents should limit the number of passengers that a teen driver is permitted to have in the car while he or she is driving. Pursuant to Illinois law, for the first 12 months of licensing or until the driver turns 18 (whichever occurs first), a teen driver can only have one passenger under age 20, unless the passenger(s) is a sibling, stepsibling, child or stepchild of the driver.
- Discourage night driving. Because teens are more likely to get into an auto accident when driving at night than during the day, parents may want to limit use of the car to daytime hours for a period of time. Illinois law prohibits driving at night during the initial phase of a driver’s license (age 16-17) between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, and between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Encourage teens to get as much driving experience as possible. Illinois law requires parents to certify that the teen driver has completed a minimum of 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night, in order to obtain a driver’s license, but parents should continue to ride with their teen drivers in order to allow them to get additional driving experience in the presence of a responsible adult.
Contact an Illinois Car Accident Lawyer
The Chicago Car accident lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC are committed helping the victims of auto accidents, including teen drivers, injured passengers, and those injured by teen drivers. If you were injured in a car accident, contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago car accident attorneys.