Drive Safe

Every year thousands of teens are killed in car accidents; in fact, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens. More likely than not someone you know will be involved in a fatal car crash. But there are some very simple, small changes to your driving habits that can save your life and protect others around you.

The first is to buckle your seatbelt every time you are in the car, no matter where you are going. 53% of car accidents happen within 5 miles of your home, so even if you’re just going down the street you need to buckle up. Always make sure that everyone in your car is wearing their own seatbelt before you begin to drive. Teen drivers and passengers are least likely to wear their seatbelt, only 10% of teens report wearing their seatbelt regularly, according to RMIIA.com. Over half of teens between 16 and 20 that were killed in a car crash were not buckled up.

Second, don’t text or dial the phone while driving. Distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents for all ages all across the US. Texting can wait and there are more than enough stop lights, stop signs and places to pull off the road if you must dial the phone. Also, the majority of teens are not alone in their car most of the time. It is very simple to have a friend send a text or make a call for you. Personally, I have friends make and answer calls and texts when I am driving. Not calling your mom to tell her you’ll be late might get you in trouble when you get home, but at least you’ll get home.

Finally do not ever get in a car with someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It doesn’t matter if they think they are ok to drive, if you know they have anything in their system that could impair their driving ability, it’s better to play it safe and not get in the car. 33% of teens who were killed in car accidents had a BAC of .01 and, according to RMIIA.com, 55% of teen deaths caused by a car crash occurred on the weekend, which is when most teens are out having parties. There are many ways to prevent getting in the car with someone who is not sober. Everyone knows to have a designated driver, but you should always have more than one of these so that you are guaranteed a safe ride home.

You could set up the “key bowl” method at parties. This is where you have to put your keys into a jar or bowl that will be kept with a person who will not be participating in the nights activities. That person would then be able to determine who is safe to drive home when people are trying to leave and will distribute the keys as such. All people they deem unable to drive will either be driven home by one of those who can drive, by the key holder or the key holder will call a friend or parent to drive the person home. Another way to protect yourself and others, especially if you are the designated driver, is to either leave early or leave late. If you are the first to leave or you don’t leave until a while after everyone else, it is less likely that people who were there with you and may be unsafe to drive will be on the road. So, you won’t get hit by them and therefor will be more likely to have a safe drive home.

Not only is it important that you don’t get in the car with a driver who is under the influence, it is also important that you do not drive when under the influence. You should not be doing these things anyway, but if you choose to, be safe. Take precautions to make sure you will be safe to drive or will have someone to drive you home. Just because you think you’re fine, doesn’t mean you are. Even if you think you are ok to drive don’t put others at risk by driving them around. It doesn’t matter how little you have in your system, it can still impair your ability to drive. Always have a ride setup. Use common sense. If you don’t feel 100%, call someone to come get you. If you’ve seen a person taking drugs or drinking, don’t let them drive you home. If your ride falls through, have a back up. Have a friend, family member or even a parent, yes a parent, who can drive you home. In the end, wouldn’t you rather be in trouble, than in the hospital, or in the ground?

There is no reason for so many teens to be dying. All of the things that cause these accidents are preventable. You just need to pay attention to your surroundings and what you are doing. Think through all of your decisions when you get behind the wheel. Watch out for friends when you are in the car with them. Inform your friends and family members of the ways to prevent these fatal accidents. And always remember, when you get behind the wheel of a car, you are manning a 4,000 pound deadly weapon.