Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stomping The Invisible Brake: Part 3; Safety Seminar: Part 1

Girlie Girl spent two more hours behind the wheel today. The state requires a minimum of 50 hours of accompanied driving with 10 of those hours at night. I think we will probably need a little more practice, and Girlie understands my reasons. Working in various Emergency Rooms, I've seen some bad stuff. Sure, this makes me very nervous because I've seen the aftermath of bad decisions like speeding and impaired driving, but it has also steeled my resolve to dedicate my time to help my daughter become a good driver.

According to the CDC, Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVAs) are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. The high rate of accidents and deaths can be attributed to several factors:
1. Teens tend to underestimate dangerous situations and are less likely to recognize road hazards.
2. Teens are more likely to exceed posted speed limits.
3. They have the lowest rate of seat belt usage compared to all other age groups.

Teen deaths are usually linked to poor decision making skills, such as drinking and driving. Almost 25% of teen drivers killed in MVAs were legally intoxicated. Distractions involving other passengers can also be deadly, with accident rates rising in proportion to the number of teen passengers in the vehicle. When combined with other factors such as lack of experience with night driving, this deadly mix peaks at certain hours of the day and on certain days of the week. Half of teen deaths from MVAs occur between 3 pm and midnight, with the number of accidents peaking on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

These statistics are scary, but you can take actions to help your teen avoid accidents and increase their chances of surviving an accident. Today I'm going to focus on seat belt usage. Buckling your seat belt is the easiest and the most effective way to minimize your injuries in an accident. Since teens have high rates of accidents and low rates of seat belt usage, this is the most obvious way to start out my safety seminar.

1. Insist on seat belt usage. Explain why it is important that they wear their seat belts every time they get in a car and for the entire time they are in the car.
a. Airbags are supplemental, they are not restraints. You can easily "submarine" as we call it. That means an unrestrained driver slips down in the seat and either misses the airbag, or impacts the airbag at an incorrect position. Another situation exists when the driver rises up from the seat. In this case the roof can be struck and/or the driver impacts the airbag at an incorrect and ineffective position.
b. You can not "catch" or "brace" yourself if an impact occurs, especially at highway speeds. If someone threw a bag of cement, weighing as much as you, at 70 miles per hour, do you think you could catch it? Think about your last accident, did you see it coming? Probably not, or chances are, there wouldn't have been an accident. Have you ever heard someone describe an accident by saying "It all happened so fast!" Wear your seat belt. Encourage everyone around you to wear their seat belts. Insist that your teen driver wears his/her seat belt and that everyone in the car wear their seat belts. Stop people in the grocery store and remind them to wear their seat belt. Get a t-shirt that says... Okay, maybe that's going a little far. But it's not a bad idea.

So this is your safety assignment for today. Set an example for your teen by wearing your seat belt, and remind everyone you know to wear theirs.

No comments: