LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) – For many teens earning a driver’s license is a rite of passage as they get older. Many can remember taking a written test, driving test, and getting a license. However, teens still need to learn the rules of the road and obey them.
That’s why the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office is sharing some tips during the month of May, which is known as National Youth Traffic Safety Month.
“Our children, whatever age, are the most precious things in our lives,” said Sheriff Barry Faile. “The older they get, the more independent they become, and we worry about them when they’re out and about. No parent should experience the nightmare of a call in the wee hours of the morning letting us know our child has been seriously hurt or killed in a car crash. There are lots of things we can do to ensure that call never comes. Set the example, start talking to your children about safe driving early, and follow these commonsense rules of safe driving.”
The Sherrif’s Office says that distracted driving by teens is one of the main causes for crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), dialing while driving increases a teen’s risk of a wreck by six times, and texting while driving increases that risk by 23 times. Officials say other distractions include eating, drinking, putting on makeup, manipulating the car stereo, and just talking with passengers. They say parents should discuss these distractions with their children, set rules about them, and enforce the rules.
The presence of teen passengers in a car driven by a teen also increases the risk of a crash. According to NHTSA, the incidence of risky behaviors by teen drivers increases 2.5 times with one teenage passenger and three times with two or more teenage passengers. The risk of a fatal crash increases in direct relation to the number of teenage passengers. In South Carolina, a teen with a restricted license cannot have more than two passengers under 21 unless a licensed driver over 21 is also in the car. Exceptions are family members and students being transported to or from school. Parents should set limits on young passengers to reduce distractions and the risk of a crash.
According to officials in 2020, speeding by drivers 15 to 18 years of age was a factor in 31% of fatal collisions. The Sherrif’s offices suggest that teens obey speed limits and adjust their speed downward when weather, road, or traffic conditions dictate a slower speed. Research by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that teens are less likely to speed in the family car than their own car.
Other issues that the Lancaster Sherrif’s Offices worries about is underage drinking. Drinking alcohol is illegal by anyone under 21, and alcohol and drug impaired driving ruin lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that teens are more likely than any other age group to die in alcohol related collisions and in 2020, 19% of 15 to 18-year-old drivers involved in fatal wrecks had been drinking. The Sherrif’s Office suggest parents should monitor their teens’ behavior and look for signs of drinking. Parents should not make alcohol available to their children. Parents should also discuss with their teens the danger of getting into a car with a driver who has been drinking or using drugs.
The Lancaster Sheriff’s Office giving this warning to Parents “Parents should discuss all these driving issues with their children and should begin these conversations long before it’s time for their children to get behind the wheel. More importantly, parents should set the standard for their children by following all these rules themselves. Our children are watching us constantly. It rings hollow to tell our children not to do it if they see us doing it all the time.”