An Easy Way to Prevent Teenage Driving Deaths

Thursday, May 16, 2013

According to Sarah Goodyear of The Atlantic Cities magazine, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teenage deaths in America. Putting a teen behind the wheel of a car also opens them up to a host of other secondary consequences--consequences that manifest primarily in the types of behavior that teen drivers display when they're plugged into "car culture."

These consequences include "physical inactivity, obesity, alcohol use, drug use, poorer grades and sexually transmitted diseases." In short, teens typically display exactly the sort of reckless, impulsive behavior that one might expect to see from them when they have the power to easily drive out from under the eyes of any adult.

Yet many teens don't have any option but to get behind the wheel of a car. Just like adults, teens often have jobs or other responsibilities to tackle--and parents don't always have time to play taxi.

So teens need, as the article described, the option to avoid driving altogether. This option saves lives while helping teens continue to receive access to transportation options that they need as they work towards their goals or enjoy their social lives.

These options encompass more than extended bus lines. There is a "total transportation management strategy" that needs to be worked out if we're going to reduce teenage driving deaths.

"This strategy encourages people to use more efficient and beneficial travel modes...through a holistic, integrated set of policies ranging from parking prices to transit improvements to traffic calming. This combined approach, according to its advocates, can shape the way people make travel choices over time. Having a bike-share system, for instance, combined with traffic-calmed streets, will make people more likely to bike rather than drive, thus reducing congestion and emissions. And the person gets some exercise, too...Kids need to be able to make fully informed choices and not be forced into driving simply because the society doesn't offer alternatives or make them useful and accessible."

Given today's teens would rather own a smartphone than a car, it's safe to say that these measures would be more than effective at saving teen lives and reducing parental worries.