We all have that one friend that thinks they are on the set of Fast and Furious. Make sure and remind them that they are not Vin Diesel (or his stunt double). They are a teenager that just got a license a few years (or even a few weeks) ago. Speeding increases the time and distance that is needed to slow the vehicle down, and it also decreases the driver’s reaction time. Speeding also decreases your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and is terrible for your breaks if you are making sudden stops. Not only is it against the law to speed, but speeding can dramatically increase your chances of serious injury in a wreck, or even death. So, it’s our responsibility to not only obey the laws, but remind our friends that we want to reach our destination in one piece, and that speeding is never worth the risks!
For every mile an hour a teen drives over the speed limit, crash risk increases. In about a third of all fatal teen crashes, excessive speeding was the main factor. Not only that, but these crashes are sometimes only one-vehicle crashes, when the driver simply loses control of the vehicle at high speeds. In 2011, speeding was a factor in about half of all fatal teen crashes.
Crashing a vehicle can potentially change your life forever, resulting in serious injury or even death. Speeding is one of the most preventable risky driving behaviors for teens. Just be smart, and if you feel uncomfortable as a passenger in a car, speak up!
Although this seems like an obvious thing to do, only 44% of teenagers said they would definitely say something to a person driving in a way that scared them. This needs to change to 100%. Never be afraid to speak up to your friends about their driving behaviors. Would you rather put yourself and others around you at risk, or drive safely to your destination?
Remember to take driving very seriously. Always keep your eyes on the road, keep distractions to a minimum, and obey the speed limit signs. How can you help others to remember these rules? Here are a few tips that you can follow to encourage your peers to also drive safe:
- Be a good role model. Always follow the rules of the road. Your friends will potentially follow you if you encourage safe driving behavior.
- Get involved. Participate in a driving safety program, such as Teens in the Driver Seat (if you’re reading this, you’ve on your way to completing this step!) It’s more than just reading monthly blogs, though. Work with principles and school faculty on how you can get your school more involved in the driving safety conversation. See our guide on how to start a TDS program if your school doesn’t already have one, and see our resource page for additional ways to take action with your student body.
- Have a conversation before the car starts. Set limits and expectations with your peers before you begin driving. Make sure seatbelts are fastened, and that they are expected to follow the rules and speed limit signs.
- Talk to your parents. If a friend drives in a way that continuously makes you feel uncomfortable, it is perfectly ok (and encouraged!) to tell your parents. Tell them your concerns and find a way to prevent these situations from happening in the future.
- Finally, always remind yourself that IT’S NOT WORTH IT! Saving five minutes in driving time is not worth risking your life over. Ever.
Automobile-related fatalities are still the number one cause of teen deaths in America. Remembering these tips and tricks will allow you and your friends to reach your destinations safely. There is only so much posters and blogs can do, because the real changes need to start from within the student body. Leading by example is a way to encourage and educate others in your high school on how to drive safely.
Let’s make a pledge to end the epidemic on teen driving fatalities. Starting with you.
Madison Graham is a student at the University of Texas obtaining her master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning. She loves all things transportation, and her focuses include bicycle and pedestrian accessibility and safety.