Parents Focused on Drugs, Bullying Overlook Risk of Car Crashes

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  • Biggest risk to teens is sitting in driveway, NSC Says
  • Only 24% of parents identify driving as top safety concern

Parents underestimate the risk that driving presents to their teenagers and often allow dangerous behavior including night-time trips and carpools, a safety group said. 

Only 24 percent of parents identified hazardous driving or car crashes as their biggest safety concern for children ages 15-19, according to a National Safety Council survey released Monday. The category of drugs and alcohol was cited by a similar share of parents. Other top concerns included bullying, Internet safety, teen pregnancy and school shootings.

The council is seeking to sharpen focus on some of the most routine dangers by addressing misconceptions about risk. The group in June highlighted that overdoses from prescription painkillers and car accidents are more likely to kill Americans than dramatic events like plane crashes and cataclysmic storms.

“The biggest threat to teens’ safety is sitting in the driveway,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and chief executive officer of the NSC, said in a statement. “The statistics have shown this for years, yet too many parents still do not appreciate that the first year of driving is a particularly deadly time in a teen’s life.”

Almost half of parents set the driving curfew at 10 p.m. or later, even though 40 percent of fatal crashes are after that hour, according to the council. The group also said that most parents who talk on a mobile phone while behind the wheel continue that behavior when teens are passengers.

In 2013, there were more than 6,600 deaths in the 15-24 age group tied to motor-vehicle mishaps, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. That’s more than all non-transportation accidents combined, a group that includes poisoning from “noxious substances.”

Safety Week

The National Safety Council is a non-profit organization focused on reducing risks in the workplace, on the roads and in homes. The group released the report in observance of National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs through Oct. 24.

The review was conducted for the council in September by Irwin Broh Research using an online consumer panel. There were 1,010 completed responses, and the sample was balanced by gender, geographic region and ethnicity, according to the NSC.

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