Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 24 : Spring 2015 - Page 79

like not wearing a seatbelt or texting while driving, are major factors, but simple driver error due to inexperience is most often what leads to car crashes for young adults. you’ve got driving down pat, remember that the people you’re passing may not. There can also be circumstances beyond your control that can cause an accident at any time, such as poor road conditions, bad weather, and If you are a teen or young adult… vehicle failure. Always stay focused and anticipate • Wear your seatbelt! According to the Insurance Institute potentially dangerous situations. for Highway Safety, 66 percent of teen drivers and 50 • Slow down. Life is busy, especially for adults juggling percent of their passengers killed in crashes were not work, home, and family responsibilities. We’re all buckled up. This easy, life-saving step only takes a few probably guilty of driving faster than the speed limit to seconds, so make it a habit even if you’re only going a get the kids to school before the bell rings or to make it short distance. to work on time. But National Highway Traffic Safety • Have a safe driver mentality. You might think it’s cool Administration research shows that the likelihood of to stuff your car full of friends, crank up the radio, you being in an accident increases four to five percent and put the pedal to the metal. But think again. The for every mile per hour you drive. So, for your average facts for teen drivers are that having two or more peer commute across town, driving 10 mph faster will only passengers triples the risk of a fatal crash, drivers using save you a minute, but it can increase your crash risk a cell phone (regardless of whether or not it’s handsby as much as 50 percent. The best solution is to leave free) are four times more likely to have an accident, earlier to get to your destination on time without having and speed is a factor in 38 percent of teen crash-related to speed. fatalities. Remember, your life and the lives of everyone • Perhaps the most important step adults can take in on the road depend on you being a safe driver. reducing motor vehicle accidents is to help younger and • Pay attention. Driving requires full concentration. older drivers be safe on the road. If you have a teen Inexperienced drivers are particularly prone to losing driver in your life, teach them the basic mechanics of control of the car when they get distracted. As driving, give them opportunities to practice, and talk tempting as it is to eat, drink, use your phone, reach for to them about the risks that teen drivers face, including something in the backseat, mess with the radio, or gawk peer pressure and risky behaviors. As a parent or trusted at the scenery when you’re cruising around, don’t do it. adult, you have the power to influence your teen’s driving Even the slightest break in focus for just one second can habits more than anyone else. If you have an older lead to disastrous results. parent or other senior loved one, be prepared to have • Celebrate smartly. More than one-third of teen auto the conversation with them about hanging up the keys. accident deaths occur in the months of April, May, Understandably, driving can be a sensitive topic for older and June – prom and graduation season. A MADD adults as it is often tied to feelings of independence, but (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) survey revealed that, there may come a time when it is no longer safe for them during prom and graduation activities, more than half to be getting behind the wheel. When addressing this of teen respondents felt pressure to drive carelessly, issue, give specific examples of why you have concerns, 74 percent were persuaded to drink alcohol, and 44 help find transportation alternativ