National Teen Driver Safety Week Urges Conversations Between Parents and Teens

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  It is "National Teen Driving Safety Week" and it serves as a reminder for parents to have conversations with their teens about safe driving.

The conversation can begin with a simple click! Iowa State Patrol says if the driver puts a seat belt on in a car with kids and teens, everybody else is going to put their seat belt on.

"You’ve got a lot of inexperienced drivers behind the wheel. There were 22 fatalities a year ago involving those kids under the age of 21. So, when you think that almost two kids a month are going to die in a car crash under the age of 21 that’s a lot," Sgt. Nate Ludwig from the Iowa State Patrol said.

The Iowa State Patrol wants to greatly reduce these numbers by urging parents to enforce safe driving habits. They say first and foremost, put down your cell phone. Not only is it a distraction but it is also illegal. In Iowa, if you are under the age of 18 it is illegal to use a cell phone in any way while driving. Texting and driving is illegal for everyone, even if you are stopped at a stop light. The current fine for texting and driving is $100.50.

Something that significantly reduces the chances of distracted driving is the number of passengers in a car. Ideally, teens should be driving alone or with only one other person in the car. "Kids can be a distraction in the car so if you’re a teen, being by yourself is probably the safest bet but we understand at times you have to take your brother or your sister to school and have more people in the car but studies have shown that passengers can definitely distract young drivers," Sgt. Ludwig said.

Especially before the first big snowfall and roads become icy, Ludwig wants to remind everyone to just slow down.

“You’re in a hurry and you kind of get tunnel vision and you’ve got one thing on your mind and that’s getting to your destination or you’ve got so many things going on that you forget about that stop light, that stop sign, that yield sign, being in which lane, using your turning signal, some of those common things that young, inexperienced drivers that we see happen often," Ludwig said.

He also said teenage drinking and driving is still a problem. One out of every five fatalities that involve a teen driver, involve alcohol. So with inexpensive ride options like Uber and Lyft, there is no excuse for drinking and driving.