If you are the parent of a new driver, here is a statistic you should know: 1,840 young drivers were involved in crashes in our county in 2016.
There was some good news about our young drivers last year:
- Only 2% of teen drivers involved in a reportable crash were alcohol related.
- 97% of teen drivers were wearing their seat belts.
- The total number of 17 and 18 year-old drivers involved in crashes in 2016 has gone down by almost 100 occurrences compared to 2015.
But there was also this:
- Two youth drivers were killed and 17% were injured. Both fatal crashes involved excessive speed. One driver was 19, the other was 20.
This youth crash map shows the locations of crashes reported to the Fairfax County Police Department and their count at each location. Also note the 10 most dangerous county roadways for our young drivers.
Parents: You’ve been protecting your kids their whole lives; don’t just hand them the keys to a two-ton vehicle with no rules.
Young Drivers: Follow these rules so you don’t become a dot on next year’s map.
Impairment begins with the first drink. It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 to operate any motor vehicle after illegally consuming alcohol. Impaired drivers cause crashes that lead to injury, death and property damage. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about a quarter of those crashes involve an underage drinking driver. NHTSA also reports that kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash. Remember, drugged driving (under the influence of prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal narcotics) is equally as dangerous.
Have the talk about distracted driving. Did you know texting and driving is illegal in Virginia and most other states now, and that mobile phones or other devices may be illegal to use period depending on your age. Remember, distracted driving is not only texting, it is talking to passengers, operating a radio or GPS, doing makeup or hair…it is any behavior that detracts from the primary function of driving.
Ensure that your young driver is aware of their vehicle’s equipment, limitations and its operational requirements. Operable windshield wipers, horn, brakes, lighting are just examples of a few considerations when keeping a vehicle functioning, safe and legal while increasing safety for everyone on our roadways. For more information visit the Virginia Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection Program webpage.
Parents, guardians and peers often serve to set an example to new drivers. Together, let us teach our youth to put their seatbelt on when they get in there vehicle for the first time and every time regardless if they are the driver or passenger. There is no reason to increase the possibility of injury or death if in a crash by simply not putting a seatbelt on.