ER Docs to Parents: Practice Driving with Teens to Reduce Crashes
"100 Deadliest Days" for Teen Drivers Starts Memorial Day Weekend
BALTIMORE – According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States.
- Teens are four times more likely to get into a car crash than adults.
- In the past five years, more than 5,000 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the "100 Deadliest Days," the period starting Memorial Day weekend when teen crash deaths historically climb.
To reduce motor vehicle accidents and subsequent injury and death, University of Maryland Children's Hospital physicians, safe driving advocates and local restaurants are urging parents to practice driving with their adolescent children.
"As soon as schools are out for the summer, more teens will be on the roads," says Richard Lichenstein, MD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of pediatric emergency research at the University of Maryland Children's Hospital. "Research shows that the more driving experience a teen driver has with an adult driver, the less likely it is that they will get in a crash." Dr. Lichenstein also serves as chairman of the Maryland Teen Safe Driving Coalition.
Beginning this week, local restaurant chains including Miss Shirley's, Green Turtle and Roy Rogers will distribute 20,000 takeout bags with a sticker message reading:
"PRACTICE DRIVING WITH YOUR TEEN. THEY'LL ♥ U (LATER)."
"Teens crash more because they are inexperienced," says Lahila-Carina Ojeda, MD, a pediatric medicine resident at University of Maryland Children's Hospital. "They struggle judging gaps in traffic, driving the right speed for conditions and turning safely, among other things."
Cliff Tompkins of Calvert County knows this issue all too well. On June 18, 2005, he and his wife, Barbie, and their three children were traveling on vacation. Having recently gotten her driver's license, 17-year-old Nicole was behind the wheel when she over-corrected to avoid a collision going 65 mph. The vehicle rolled and her 7-year-old brother was fatally injured.
"Driver's education only teaches teens so much," says Mr. Tomkins. "Yes, they are taught how to operate a car and the rules of the road. But parents must regularly practice driving with their teens so they can safely get the experience they need to avoid accidents."