5 Facts to Know about Teen Drivers

Teens want to be good drivers and deserve support and informed guidance while learning.

I am an injury prevention educator for a local hospital and teach youth and parents how to utilize GDL components effectively. In an effort to reach more parents with this important information, I am sharing much of what I teach through a series of articles.Car crashes are the leading cause of death for US teens. Sixty-one percent of teen passengers are killed while riding with a teen driver. There are ways that help evaluate the teen driver’s maturity and experience that may increase his or her safety.

In the first of a series of articles about Teen Driving Safety found on the Ezine Articles site, I begin with information that has nothing to do with the operation of the vehicle.

5 Facts to Know

  1. The pre-frontal cortex of a human brain becomes functional at the age of 12-13 and does not reach full maturity until the mid-late 20’s; a portion does not fully mature until around age 40
  2. The pre-frontal cortex of a human brain is responsible for judgment, logic, reason and decision-making
  3. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens
  4. The vast majority of teen car crashes occur because of driving inexperience and immaturity
  5. 61% of teens who die in car crashes were riding with a teenage driver

Safety Equipment Tips

Wear your safety belt like this and risk a broken back and ruptured internal organs.



  1. Adjust the seat so that your body is at least 12″ back from the steering wheel because air bags are on a 10″ tether and deploy at over 200MPH. While they are up for a Nano second, getting hit by something going 200MPH can kill you
  2. Adjust the mirrorsScreen Shot 2013-04-28 at 9.41.32 PM
  3. Secure and wear a safety belt correctly: back of the seat in up-right; sit-up straight with the buttocks all the way back in the seat and both feet on the floor
  4. Adjust the belt so that it secures 3 locations of the body-       
  • Shoulder harness crosses the shoulder and colarbone (not on the neck-otherwise when it tightens in a crash it can break the neck or cause a stroke)
  • Shoulder harness crosses the middle of the sternum
  • Lap belt crosses at the hips (not the abdomen where the intestines are located)

5. Leaning the seat back while driving will allow the lap belt to ride up to the waist in a crash and can break the back; additionally the shoulder harness will be suspended over the chest which can allow the body the catapult forward and catch the head causing internal or external capitation

6. Once you secure the safety belt correctly, do not remove it until you decide to exit the vehicle

7. Traffic laws are based on Newtons Laws of Motion-simply said, the faster you go, the harder you hit, so follow all traffic laws consistently to avoid being the cause of a crash

8. Tailgating is attempted speeding, and the cause of most rear-end collisions. Be sure to keep 4-seconds of distance between your car and the one in front of you when traveling at 30MPH; add a second for every additional 10MPH i.e. 40MPH=5 seconds of space


Before handing the keys of the car to your teenager this summer, are you sure your teen is adequately prepared and mature enough to take on the serious business of driving? Remember these words from a parent victim speaker, “The worst day you have arguing with your kid about implementing the tips and strategies offered by the injury prevention educator is better than any day you will live without him”, then properly prepare yourself to teach your teen to drive.

If you are unfamiliar with GDL, please educate yourself by reading the  EZINE articles I have written about the reasons for and importance of GDL and be empowered because….

The fact is, there is NO substitute for a Parent investing at least two years of driving practice to develop a teen’s skills and maturity before licensing a youth for driving responsibility.

Why GDL?

In response to the fact that a car crash is the leading cause of death for American teens, most US states and territories have adopted GDL laws. GDL is the acronym for Graduated Driver’s Licensing. While GDL does not guarantee your teen will avoid being involved or injured in a crash, understanding how to evaluate the teen driver’s maturity and experience combined with effectively utilizing the law can increase his or her safety.

Visit your Department of Transportation for a complete over-view of GDL laws for your state.


The information I teach does NOT replace the value or importance of attending a formal driver education class, nor should Parents rely upon the formal driving course as a guarantee of a teen’s driving expertise.

You spend the first two years of your child’s life teaching him to crawl, walk and talk. I do not know of one child killing another and himself when learning to crawl, walk or talk, however, presently over 6,000 American 16-year old teens needlessly die annually from driving inexperience and immaturity.

Attention Parents of Teens!

Every state is different! CAUTION! If your teen has a license with plans to go out-of-state to prep school or college, be sure to familiarize yourself with the GDL laws of the state in which he/she will be attending school. California REQUIRES youth to attend classes and be re-licensed in California before being a legal driver.

How to Utilize GDL 

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 11.33.36 AM

Here is a pdf copy of How to Utilize GDL Effectively Revised 12-10 How_to_Effectively_Utilize_Handout-_pdot_logo which includes a Teen Driver Contract for Oregon youth.

The Second article in the series offers several tips when making decisions about Teens transporting passengers.

Need More Info?

For more tips about Utilizing GDL laws effectively be sure to read the other Teen Driver Safety articles, click links belowor visit the Resources for Parents page of Legacy Emanuel Medical Center where you will find an ‘editable’ copy of the Teen Driver Contract.

Additional Useful Information

The Argument in Favor of Using 28 Traffic Safety Questions when Teaching Teens to Drive

The Argument in Favor of Teen Driving Contracts

The Best ROI for a Teen Driver Monitoring Device

Teen Driver Education

If you live in the tri-county area of Portland and want more information about Teen Driver Safety;  Registering for Teen Driving Safety classes or if you are a healthcare professional and interested in developing Teen Driving Safety classes at your hospital, please email tntt@lhs.org

Talking on Cell Phones while Driving

Please put cell phones in the glove compartment while driving. The part of the brain required to be engaged while driving is identical to the part of the brain engaged when talking on a phone. Try this simple task as  illustration: Deal out a deck of cards for four hands. Now, call a friend and try dealing out the deck of cards again.

Texting while Driving

Gifts that Say I Love You

My injury prevention background led me to create the Snug Hug Key Charm for a gift that says I love you as a great Parent to Teen positive and simple reminder to ‘buckle up’ and not text while driving.  Available only in my Etsy shop.


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