76 Percent of Parents Unaware of the Biggest Threat to Teens’ Safety, says National Safety Council

76 Percent of Parents Unaware of the Biggest Threat to Teens’ Safety, says National Safety Council

Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens

​Itasca, IL – A National Safety Council survey found 76 percent of parents are unaware that car crashes are the biggest threat to their teens' safety. Three quarters of parents said they believe drugs and alcohol, bullying or the internet are teens' most significant safety threats.

The finding is released in observance of National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 18-24.

"The biggest threat to teens' safety is sitting in the driveway," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "The statistics have shown this for years, yet too many parents still do not appreciate that the first year of driving is a particularly deadly time in a teen's life."

Parents may be unaware of the scope of the problem, but many understand why teens crash. Seventy-two percent of parents correctly pointed to lack of experience or poor decision making as leading crash factors. However, far fewer parents said they enforce rules that help reduce crash risks, and 44 percent said they do not supervise their teens' driving for the recommended amount of time during the restricted licensing stage.

Five key issues for teen drivers include:

  • Impaired driving. In 2011, nearly 1 million high school teens drove after drinking.[i]
  • Driving at night. Teens' fatal crash risk is nearly twice as high at night,[ii] yet the Council's survey found 45 percent of parents allow their teens to drive until 10 p.m. or later.
  • Driving with young passengers. A single young passenger can increase a teen driver's fatal crash risk 44 percent,[iii] but 60 percent of parents surveyed allow teens to drive younger siblings, and 43 percent allow teens to drive with friends.
  • Practice. NSC found 44 percent of parents do not spend more than the recommended* 50 hours supervising their teens' driving.
  • Distracted driving. Fifty-eight percent of teen crashes involve some form of distraction, with 12 percent attributed to cell phone use.[iv] 

Parents are encouraged to be driving role models, because teens with parents who set rules and pay attention to their activities are half as likely to crash.[v] Visit DriveitHOME.org for tips, driving lessons, videos and resources on how to coach your new teen driver. 


About the National Safety Council

Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, the National Safety Council, nsc.org, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to save lives by preventing injuries and deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact – distracted driving, teen driving, workplace safety, prescription drug overdoses and Safe Communities.


[i] According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
[ii] According to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
[iii] According to Johns Hopkins University
*Recommendation from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
[iv] According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
[v] Ginsburg KR, et al. Associations Between Parenting Style and Adolescent Driving Safety-related Behaviors and Attitudes. Pediatrics. October 2009.


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