Every May is Global Youth Traffic Safety Month (GYTSM). GYTSM is a movement led by the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) in collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The goal of the movement is to help raise awareness of youth traffic safety problems and to engage and empower youth to lead projects and programs that address these problems. They chose May, as it is the month that hosts many of the increased safety risks- prom, graduation, and the beginning of summer break for many students. The NHTSA states that May and July are two of the deadliest months for youth on the roads.
Youth Traffic Safety by the Numbers
The NYOS states that car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the United States and a leading cause of death in countries around the world. Summer is the deadliest season for youth on the roads.
- Car crashes are a leading cause of death for 15- to 19-year-olds in the United States. (NYOS)
- Each year, 2,524 youth age 16-19 - the equivalent of 5 plane-loads of teens - die in U.S. road crashes. (NYOS)
- The NHTSA says that teen drivers are at a greater risk of death in alcohol-related crashes compared to drivers in all other age groups, even though they’re too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol. They went on to state that nationally in 2013, almost one out of five (19 percent) of the teen drivers (15 to 19 years old) involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.
- 58% of teens involved in traffic crashes are distracted. (NYOS)
- One of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle is to wear a seat belt. Whether their unsafe behavior stems from immaturity or a false perception that they’re invincible, the numbers speak volumes: teens aren’t buckling up, and neither are their passengers. In 2013, 64 percent of all the young passengers (13- to 19-year-old) of teen (15- to 19-year-old) drivers who died in motor vehicle crashes weren’t restrained. When the teen driver was also unrestrained, the number of all passengers unrestrained increased to almost 90 percent. (NHTSA)
- In 2013, almost one-third (29 percent) of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were speeding. (NHTSA)
- 25% of teens drive under the influence of marijuana, alcohol or R/X. (NYOS)
- 55% of all crashes where a driver fell asleep involve drivers 25 and under. Combining sleepiness with driver inexperience is deadly. (NYOS)
- Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teens in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers. (NHTSA)
5 Ways to Keep Youth Safer on the Road
The NYOS organized Youth Traffic Safety Month with the hopes that teen would become more involved in planning and teaching events with their peers and schools. More information on how this can be done can be found here. In the meantime, here are five steps teens can take to try and remain safe on the roads:
- Everyone has a seat belt. Make sure everyone in the car has a seat belt available and that they are wearing it. No matter how far or how fast you are going each person in the car must be wearing a belt at all times.
- Avoid distractions. Remember the motto used by the NHTSA during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All.” Make sure phones are put away out of reach and even shut off while driving to avoid any temptations. NEVER text and drive.
- Don’t Speed. Every time your speed doubles, the required stopping distance quadruples. Speed limits are in place to keep you and everyone on the road safe. When you violate the speed limit you put every one’s life in danger
- Limit teens to having only one passenger with them at a time. According to the NHTSA, with each passenger in the vehicle, your teen’s risk of a fatal crash goes up.
- No driving under the influence. Not only is drinking before the age of 21 illegal, but alcohol and driving should never mix no matter what your age may be.
Although May is Global Youth Traffic Safety Month, keeping teens safe on the road should be made a priority year round. Parents should talk with their teens often to remind them of the dangers they face when driving and why they should always be cautious.