The Facts about Tweens and Teens

It is important to begin the discussion about car safety and  using a seat belt on every trip from the time a child is buckled into their first car seat. Children are safe to transition to a seat belt alone when they can properly fit in a seat belt. By California law the child must be restrained in a seat belt, that fits across the chest and low on the hips until they are 16 years old. So how do you know if your child fits safely in a seat belt? Visit the “Find the Right Car Seat” page and select “9 yrs or older” to take the 5-Step Safety Belt Test to find out. It is important to reinforce safe passenger habits well before the child get their driving permit, why?  Here are a few facts that you need to know as your child begins to ride more frequently with other drivers and prepares to get behind the wheel.

  • Only 54% of high school students reported always wearing a seat belt when riding as passenger in a car
  • The best indicator that a teen will wear their seat belt is if their parents wear a safety belt, a recent study found that only 6 out of 10 teens wore a seat belt if their parents did not, compared to 9 out of 10 teens if their parents were using a safety belt
  • Serious injury occurred in 5 of 10 teens not wearing safety belts, compared to 1 out of 10 in teens that used a safety belt
  • Seat belts, when used correctly, reduce the risk of death and serious injury by 50%
  • Teens ages 15-19 years old made up 75% of motor  vehicle  occupant/driver fatalities in 2011
  • The best time to instill safe driving practices is before a teen gets their license

As children get older they begin to question the world around them, and want to begin to make their own decisions. But they lack the experience and judgment to always make a good decision, especially when it comes to safety and risk taking behavior. Research and experience has also shown that older children and young adolescence observe their parents actions and will follow their example, despite what they might report.  That is why it is important for parents to set a good example especially in  promoting safety as a passenger and as a driver. As Safe Kids World Wide states “A Good Passenger Today, Makes a Better Driver Tomorrow” and the Centers for Disease Control, use the tag line “Parents are the Key” to teen driving safety.

To assist parents with the discussion about passenger safety and to enforce the rules we have developed a “Safe Passenger Pledge” for you to complete with your child to set clear expectations of how they will behave while traveling with you, other families or their siblings. To help enforce these expectations we have created a “Truth and Consequences of  Safe Driving” template to develop a personalized reward system for adhering to these expectations, and personalized consequence to not meeting them.  Take the Pledge for Safer Driving to take make this commitment with your family today.