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Strategies For Teen Driver Education Highlighted

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), in partnership with the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reminds all young drivers to focus on the road to help increase safety for everyone. October 15 through 21 is National Teen Driver Safety Week, and it is a great time for California parents to talk to their teenagers about safe driving, including the importance of driving sober.

The greatest dangers for teen drivers are alcohol consumption, not wearing a seat belt, distracted driving, speeding, and driving with passengers in the vehicle. For National Teen Driver Safety Week, parents are encouraged to talk with their teens about the important rules they need to follow to stay safe.

According to the California Highway Patrol, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among teens 16-19 years old. A teen driver was determined to be at fault in approximately 66 percent of those crashes.

“ABC encourages parents to talk to their children about the dangers of driving impaired,” said ABC Director Joseph McCullough. “Underage drinking causes a disproportionate amount of drunk driving deaths every year.”

According to the NHTSA, a total of 2,116 young drivers died in traffic crashes in 2021, an 11 percent increase from 2020. Parents can be the biggest influencers on teens’ driving habits if they take the time to talk with their teens about some of the biggest driving risks. To help reduce risks for teen drivers, follow these basic rules:

Impaired Driving: All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol. However, nationally in 2021, 27 percent of young drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system, and 84 percent of those involved exceeded a .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC). The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes with alcohol in their system has nearly doubled since 2017, according to figures from NHTSA.

Seat Belt Safety: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. Yet too many teens aren’t buckling up – 52 percent of teen passenger vehicle drivers who died in 2021 were unbuckled.

Distracted Driving: Cell phone use while driving is not only dangerous, but it is also illegal. Distracted driving accounted for eight percent of all teen motor vehicle crashes in 2021. Drivers under 18 are not allowed to use a phone for any reason, including hands-free.

Speed Limits: Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially for teens. In 2021, fatal crashes involving teens 15 to 20 were speeding more than any other demographic.

Passengers: The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers.

OTS funds multiple ABC programs designed to help keep California youth safe including Target Responsibility for Alcohol Connected Emergencies (TRACE), Minor Decoy, and Shoulder Tap Decoy operations that are used to reduce youth access to alcohol. TRACE involves in-depth ABC investigations of serious incidents involving alcohol-related car crashes. The Minor Decoy and Shoulder Tap Programs reduce youth access to alcohol by performing compliance checks on licensees and the public to ensure they don’t furnish alcohol to underage youth.

For more information about National Teen Driver Safety Week and to learn safe driving tips to share with teens, visit the NHTSA Website.

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is the agency of the government of the state of California charged with the regulation of alcoholic beverages. ABC’s mission is to provide the highest level of service and public safety to the people of California through licensing, education, and enforcement. ABC is a department of the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency.