Five to Drive: Safe Driving Habits for Teens

Illinois injury attorney, Illinois car accident lawyer, Illinois personal injury lawyer,The U.S. government has designated this week National Teen Driver Safety Week in an effort to teach teenagers the “five to drive” safety rules. These rules apply to distracted driving, extra passengers, speeding, alcohol, and seat belt use. Although many programs attempt to scare teens “straight” regarding practicing safe driving habits, studies show that these types of tactics tend to overwhelm teens and they then shut down and shut out the safety message.

Instead, safety programs should focus on the positive steps teens can take to stay safe behind the wheel. There is also a more positive outcome if safety programs also focus on how the teen driver can keep their friends safe, too.

Distracted Driving

One in three teens has admitted that they text and drive – despite knowing how dangerous it can be. Driving and dialing a cell phone increases the risk of a car crash by six times. Driving and texting increases the risk of a crash by 23 times. When a teen is focused on their phone and not on the road – whether that is talking or texting – their reaction time decreases to that of a 70-year-old who is driving (and not using a phone). Teens – and adults – need to keep both hands off the phone and on the wheel.

Extra Passengers in the Vehicle

When teenagers have passengers in their car, the risk of being in a car accident increases. This is because, according to a study conducted by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teen drivers are three times more likely to fall into risky driving behaviors if they have friends in the vehicle with them. That same study found that the more passengers in the vehicle, the more the risk of the teen driver being involved in a fatal car crash increases.


Per national statistics, 30 percent of fatal car crashes involving teens were caused by speeding. In fact, during the years 2000 through 2011, there were almost 20,000 speed-related crashes that had a teen driver behind the wheel. Multiple studies have also concluded that the more confident a teen driver becomes operating a vehicle, the more likely it is that they will speed.


Underage drinking is not only against the law, it is also responsible for hundreds of fatal car crashes every year. Approximately 625 people die each year in teen driver alcohol-related crashes. In 2014, in 20 percent of all fatal crashes that had a teen driver between the ages of 15 to 19 years of age, that driver had alcohol in their system.

Seat Belts

Even though seat belt use is mandatory, and only takes seconds to do, more than 50 percent of all teenagers killed in crashes were not wearing their seat belts. Whether a statement of independence, thinking they are invincible, or something else, drivers who are between the ages of 16 through 24 have the lowest rate of seat belt use.

Despite all the education we provide our teenage drivers, and no matter how well they practice safe driving habits, there are many other drivers on the road who do not. If your teen has been injured in a car accident, contact an experienced Orland Park personal injury attorney. Call James A. Payonk, Jr., P.C. at 708-966-2408 for your free initial consultation.




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