Teenage Driving Study

Information on this page is from the National Traffic Safety Council.

Tab/Accordion Items

Insist on seat belt use
Make sure you know the importance of seat belts. Remember - it's the law in North Carolina and teen drivers, as well as their parents, could be held liable, legally and financially, if someone is injured from not wearing a seat belt. Seat belt use significantly reduces the chance of a serious injury or fatality.

Don't Drink and Drive
More than one-third of all teen traffic fatalities involve alcohol. It is illegal and highly dangerous for anyone to drive after drinking or using any other drug. No excuses. No second chances. No alcohol - period. It is illegal in North Carolina for anyone under age 21 to drink alcohol, much less drink and drive.

Slow down
Excessive speed is a major factor in crashes involving teens. Slow down and live. Your speed should be equal to the driving conditions you encounter. For example, when it rains the road becomes slicker. Also, visibility decreases and you need more time to stop-so leave more space between your car and other vehicles. Also, you should turn on your car's headlights in inclement weather.

Use turn signals
Remember to signal when you change lanes as well as when turning.

Avoid distractions
While learning to drive, pay full attention to the roadway. It is the sole responsibility of the driver to operate the vehicle safely. Distractions like the radio, cell phones and passengers take a driver's attention away from the road. Remember - increasing distractions increases the risk of a crash.

Limit passengers while learning
Fatal crashes are more likely to occur when other teenagers are in the car. The risk of a crash increases with every additional passenger. In North Carolina, only one other person can ride in your car. Exceptions only include your family. You should be concentrating on driving and not talking to others. This can cause a distraction and could become lethal.

Caution in intersections
Drivers running red lights and stop signs are huge problems. Many people are seriously injured or killed because they didn't pay extra attention to other traffic. After a traffic light has turned green, or you are pulling away from a stop sign, remember to look left, right, and left again before proceeding. No one should assume that other traffic will stop for a red light or stop sign. Proceed with caution when entering an intersection.

Watch out for deer and other animals
Striking a deer or some other large animal can cause significant damage to a vehicle. Many people are seriously injured or killed in such crashes. Remember to scan the horizon carefully, especially at night. This will give you time to react in a controlled manner rather than causing you to panic and possibly swerving to avoid the animal, which could cause a crash even without striking the animal.

Don't drive when sleepy
Drowsy driving is a serious problem that leads to thousands of auto crashes each year. If you find yourself becoming sleepy while driving, pull over at a safe place and get out and walk around. Another solution is to reschedule the trip for another time to reduce risk of drowsy driving; especially if it's a long trip.

Don't tailgate
This is a bad habit that is a major cause of crashes. Leave plenty of space between yourself and the vehicle ahead. You should be able to see the rear tires of the car in front in slow traffic situations. At higher speeds, you should leave a three-second-cushion between your car and the vehicle in front of you.

Be courteous
Be courteous by letting motorists entering the roadway merge in front of you. When a driver ahead puts on a turn signal, slow down and let him over. Courtesy on the road goes a long way to making life more enjoyable for everyone.

Move Over
North Carolina law requires motorists to approach cautiously when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the shoulder of the roadway with its emergency lights flashing. Motorists are required to change lanes away from the emergency vehicle on a multi-lane highway, or slow down on a two-lane highway. You must slow down while maintaining a safe speed.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among North Carolina teenagers.

In North Carolina, a teenager is involved in a crash every 23.6 minutes.

Even after many months of driving practice, when teens move from supervised driving to driving without an adult in the car, their crash rate increases sharply. This reflects the many crash risks that result from poor judgment, dangerous conditions and other things besides technical “driving skill” that are involved in crashes.

Fortunately, even though you are no longer in the car, there is still something parents can do to help protect their teen. This is where the Parent/Teen Driving Agreement comes in. The driving agreement helps make sure the driving conditions are as safe as possible for your teen even when you're not there.

What is a driving agreement?

It's a formal agreement between parents and teens. It includes specific things that both parents and teens agree to do. Parents have found that driving agreements work well to keep teens safe when they first begin to drive on their own by making expectations clear.

Download the Driving Agreement here.