LISBON - Have you noticed the number of motorcycles on the highway? My home office overlooks U.S. Route 30. I witnessed something that I have to mention to our readers.
A teenage boy on one bike and a teenage boy and girl were on a second bike. The cars ahead of them were slowing down, possibly because a car at the head of the line was going to make a turn. The lone rider didn't want to wait. He kicked that bike down and buzzed out around the traffic and could still be heard as he roared toward Canton Bridge. I have worried about him ever since. One day he will make an impulsive choice like that and his friends will be visiting him in the hospital, or worse, visiting his family at the funeral home.
This week an announcement was made by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "The likelihood of a 16- or 17-year-old driver being killed in a motor vehicle crash increases with each additional young passenger in the vehicle.
"Researchers analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System from 2007 to 2010 and found that the fatality risk for 16- and 17-year-old drivers increased 44 percent when one passenger younger than 21 (and no older passengers) was in the car, doubled when two passengers younger than 21 were in the car, and quadrupled when three or more young passengers were in the car.
Driving with at least one passenger 35 or older reduced the risk of a teen driver death by 62 percent and decreased the risk of being involved in any crash by 46 percent, the report concluded."
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety president and CEO, Peter Kissinger, says, "We know that carrying young passengers is a huge risk, but it's also a preventable one. Parents can make their teens safer by not allowing them to get in the car with other young people, whether they're behind the wheel or in the passenger seat."
Also, the significant reduction in risk be3cause someone 35 or older is in the car, new drivers benefit a lot from more driving time with a parent or guardian in the car.
"In 2009, about 3,000 teens in the U.S. aged 15-19 were killed and more than 350,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes," says the CDC.
With limited driving experience, teens are more likely to underestimate dangerous situations, perhaps not even recognize them. Teens also are apt NOT to use seat belts. Additionally, boys drink and drive more than girls.
"In a national survey conducted in 2007," says the CDC, "nearly three out of 10 teens reported that, within the previous month they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. One in 10 reported driving after drinking alcohol."
Crash risk is particularly high for teens who are in their first year of driving.
The AAA Foundation urges families to follow these steps:
Know the graduated driver licensing system for your state. The law may not set a passenger limit for young drivers, but parents can.
Sign a parent-teen driving agreement that stipulates teens will not ride as passengers of teen drivers without a parent's advance permission.
Provide transportation alternatives for teens who honor that pledge.
Talk with other parents so they know the rules for your teen and will help enforce them.
When your teen is at the wheel, ride with him or her and guide them to be better, safer drivers.
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