Gen Z: Speak Up From the Backseat! Your Life May Depend On It.

Published on November 15, 2022

Gen X: Don't relinquish your role in your teenaged driver's life

crashed white vehicle on a dark road with oncoming light. Road crashes remain the #1 killer of our nation’s teenagers, and it’s not just distracted driving to blame.

This cell phone video from Easter Sunday shows a convertible Chevy Corvette going 110 mph on Dumas Highway in Amarillo, Texas. The passenger shouts over the engine noise, “Joey, Chill, bro!” but what happens next will change the lives inside this car forever.

A gruesome crash follows, and 17-year-old Andrea Elizalde would die after the car flips, rolls, slams into an overpass, and slides down an embankment.

What would’ve happened had the driver accepted his passenger’s recommendation “to chill” and to reduce his speed?

Every day, six teens are killed in a car crash in the United States.

Here in San Antonio, one out of every four crashes on our streets involves a teenager, and studies show it’s not just risky behaviors behind it – it’s also a lack of experience combined with the physical environment that are factors in teenage traffic violence.

Teenagers need to remember to put their personal safety FIRST when they enter a car. Tell your teen to speak up! Be the bad guy and call out inappropriate behavior. Better yet, don’t get in the car with an impaired driver, even if it’s a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Impairment can mean many things in teenaged driver. The teenage brain is still developing, and driving takes cognitive and motor skills that they may not have mastered. Combined with the newness of operating a motor vehicle and the stress your teen may be facing that day – anger, aggressiveness, a “bad break up”—and it can prove fatal.

Parents, you can help make a difference is reducing teenaged risky driving behaviors. In fact, in teens who were surveyed, the biggest factor that led to a reduction in drinking and driving or riding with a drunk driver was a parent who continues to actively monitor their teenager’s activities – where are they going? Who are they with? Who's driving?

Some ways to ensure your teenager doesn’t become a statistic:

  • Sit down and make some “rules of the road.” Set boundaries:
    • No drinking or drugging and driving.
    • No speeding
  • Offer to pay for Uber or Lyft services or to come get them, should they find themselves stuck somewhere with no safe alternatives. Ask your teen to consider a park-n-ride service, bus, or other transportation.
  • Model the appropriate behavior. When you have your children in the car, make sure to buckle up and to refrain from cell phone use.
  • Practice driving with your teenager. Teens report that time spend behind the wheel with mom and/or dad had the most influence on their driving behaviors.
  • When different driving environments or weather conditions exist, get your teen behind the wheel and ride shotgun with them so they can learn a different driving skill set.

As parents or guardians, we have a responsibility to keep our children safe. Teenagers are notorious for their experimentation and rebelliousness. Let’s just keep it out of a vehicle weighing several tons and traveling at a high rate of speed.

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