Your kids are getting older and that means more freedom. There’s one perk that figures to be a prominent point of contention: driving.
Parents, here’s your opportunity to ease the anxiety. Through Saturday, educators are taking part in National Teen Driver Safety Week, an advocacy campaign designed to raise awareness among teen drivers about operating vehicles responsibly. The annual program began back in 2007 after a series of crashes in Pennsylvania prompted aggressive action by Congress to curb future accidents.
Since then, advocacy programs have taken a long-term approach to tackling poor habits by encouraging community-based support systems rather than using scared-straight tactics to prevent would-be drivers from making bad decisions. For years, conventional wisdom held that showing kids pictures and videos of mangled cars was a good way to prevent that.
Not so much. Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for 15–19 year olds in the U.S. There were 2,679 passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 alone, and an estimated 123,000 teens were injured because of things like texting while driving, which accounts for thousands of preventable traffic-related fatalities each year.
Teen Driver Safety Week continues to receive a swell of support from influential figures, including endorsements from celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Jesse McCartney. Federal and local groups have also been eager to trot out new approaches to driver education by giving parents and teens alike an opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns from within a safe space.
Driver safety should be an ongoing conversation, but at the very least, you’ve got a full week when everyone is on the same page. Take advantage while you can.