It’s natural for parents to worry about their teen drivers – but hopefully, they’re doing more than just worrying. October 15 to 21 is National Teen Driver Safety Week, and it’s a great time for parents to talk their teen drivers about staying safe on the road.  

According to the NHTSA, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for teens between 15 and 18 years old.

Inexperience is one issue, but it’s not the only problem. Multiple factors contribute to the teen car accident rate, just as multiple factors contribute to car accidents among adults. During National Teen Driver Safety Week, parents should take the opportunity to talk to their teens about the following common issues.

Seat belt use: Seat belts save lives, but only if you use them. Whether your teens are driving or riding as passengers, make sure they’re fastening their seat belts every time they get in a car.

Drunk driving: Underage drinking and driving is another serious problem. According to the NHTSA, in 2013, 29 percent of underage drivers who died in car collisions had alcohol in their systems. Talk to your teen about the dangers of drunk driving.

Parents should also discuss the dangers of drugged driving. Although California’s new recreational marijuana law restricts marijuana use to adults at least 21 years old, underage smoking can be a problem, just as underage drinking is. Make sure teens know to drive only when sober, and to never get in the car with a driver who is not sober.

Distracted driving: This can refer to anything to divides a driver’s attention, including eating and adjusting the radio. Most of the time, however, distracted driving refers to phone use. Texting is an extremely dangerous form of distracted driving because it requires the driver’s hands, eyes and focus.

California law prohibits the use of cell phones while driving. Drivers under the age of 18 are also prohibited from using hands-free devices. Despite this, distracted driving continues to be a problem. In a 2016 survey, more than half of California drivers said they had been hit or nearly hit by a driver distracted by a phone.

Talk to your teen about the dangers of distracted driving, and remember that this is an issue for adults as well. Parents should be good role models and put their phones away.

Want to prove your commitment to safety? Take the Dashers Pledge to stop distracted driving.