Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) shows that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in teenagers 14-18 years of age.

In an effort to keep our most inexperienced drivers safe, the NHTSA launched its “5 To Drive” in October. The campaign challenges the parents of teenage drivers to discuss the five critical driving practices that can have the greatest benefits in the event of a crash.

The “5 To Drive” Campaign topics for discussion with your teenage driver are:

  1. No cell phone use or texting while driving. Talking on a cell phone reduces your reaction time. Texting involves manual, visual and cognitive distraction.
  2. No extra passengers. Peer pressure encourages risky behavior in teen drivers.
  3. No speeding. Speeding, including showing off, racing, etc., is a major factor in teen crash fatalities.
  4. No alcohol. Although illegal to purchase alcohol as a teenager, drivers 15-20 years old are at greater risk of death in crashes involving alcohol.
  5. No driving or riding without a seatbelt. Wearing a seat belt is the best way for a teen driver to protect themselves and their passengers in the event of a crash.

In a recent NHTSA study, it was found that teens were over two times more likely to engage in potentially risky behavior when driving with a teenage peer than driving alone and this was three times more likely when driving with multiple teenage peers.

A parent is the biggest influence on a teen driver. In self-reported surveys, teens typically engage in less risky driving and are involved in fewer accidents if their parents impose driving restrictions upon them.