NAPERVILLE, Ill., Nov. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Thanksgiving and Christmas see 100 million or more Americans hitting the open road to visit friends and family, amplifying the risk of serious accidents, especially those involving inexperienced teen drivers. In "What Teenage Drivers Don't Know: Unwritten Rules of the Road," authors John Harmata and Paul Zientarski provide sound advice to keep these young drivers safe regardless of traffic and weather conditions.
"Vehicle maintenance is always important," says Harmata, "but especially so before a long trip. Traveling in groups is also a good idea, as is keeping an emergency kit and contact list in a handy location. In the event of an accident, even a minor one, a fully charged cell phone can be a teen driver's best resource. Most of all, teens should allow plenty of time to reach their destinations, driving carefully and following all the rules of the road. Holiday traffic can be stressful and frustrating, but it's helpful to keep a cool head."
According to the CDC, more than 2,000 teens died in traffic accidents in 2013 – that's more than six every day. Males are about twice as likely to be victims of a fatal crash in any year. People aged 15 to 24 account for nearly one-third of the total cost of accidents nationwide. Several factors converge to enhance the dangers of teen driving, including a low rate of seat belt usage and the tendency of young people to take needless risks behind the wheel. Even having teen passengers in the car has been shown to make a teen driver more likely to make a miscalculation.
During any major holiday where travel is common, teens naturally account for the largest share of both fatal and nonfatal accidents. Based on several years' worth of statistics, the National Safety Council pegs Thanksgiving as the third most dangerous holiday. In most years, between 400 and 500 people die on the nation's roadways during the week of Thanksgiving. Christmas ranks as the sixth most dangerous for drivers.
Holiday driving is strongly influenced by a number of factors. Bad weather and short days naturally make the roads more treacherous; however, good weather during Christmas actually leads to more accidents – because people feel confident getting out. Similarly, an improving economy means Americans can afford to travel during vacations. Finally, Christmas falling on a Friday this year rather than the middle of the week will likely mean more drivers on the roads, if history is a guide.
The open highway is not the only danger zone for teen drivers during the holidays. In fact, parking lots are prime spots for fender benders, hit-and-run accidents and crime. Harmata offers the following suggestions to ensure a fun shopping trip doesn't turn into a costly insurance claim, or worse:
- Drive in lanes – slowly – and never diagonally across spaces.
- Back out cautiously, checking in all directions for cars speeding down lanes.
- Park away from stores during the day, and under streetlights at night.
- Be especially careful at post offices, where people are rapidly coming and going.
- Put packages into the trunk immediately, and don't linger in the parking lot.
About the Authors
John Harmata, business owner and entrepreneur, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. His concern for child safety has been a priority in life. Raising two children together with his wife, John has experienced the concern parents have for their children as they take those first steps toward independence and begin to drive. John, creator and lead author believes that "What Teenage Drivers Don't Know: The Unwritten Rules of the Road" will help protect our most valuable possessions – our children's lives.
Paul Zientarski has dedicated 40 years of his life to teaching students physical education, culminating his career as Department Chairman for Physical Education, Health, and Driver Education. As the Department Chairman for Driver Education, Paul's responsibilities included staff development, supervision, and film reviews for Simulator Systems, Inc.
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SOURCE John Harmata and Paul Zientarski