Anxious times with teens | VailDaily.com
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Anxious times with teens

Dr. Drew Werner

EAGLE COUNTY – The Great American Revolution; Grab Life By The Horns; Built For The Road Ahead. Are you thinking of cars and trucks? They are the very embodiment of freedom, independence and success in America. At the same time, they can be behind the most dangerous thing we do each day.Dear Doc: My daughter is starting to drive, as are so many of her friends. I am concerned not only about her safety, but that of all our young drivers. Can you talk about what they can do to be safe behind the wheel?- Concerned Mom in EagleDear Concerned: What a great question. Teenage driving is in fact statistically the most dangerous activity our high school students do. The facts are alarming:- In 2004 nearly 43,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents.- Out of those deaths, nearly 7,000 were teenagers.- 14 percent of driving fatalities are teen drivers, but only 7percent of drivers are teenagers.- Teen drivers cause 20 percent of all driving accidents.- 53 percent of teen driving fatalities occurred on weekends.- 45 percent of teen drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents had a minor passenger with them.- 33 percent of teen driving deaths are attributed to excess speed.- Teen drivers are more likely to be involved in single vehicle accidents than any other age group.- 96 teenagers died in traffic accidents in Colorado in 2005.- 60 percent of those teenagers were not wearing seatbelts.- 80 percent of teen passengers who died in car crashes were riding with teen drivers.- 25 percent of teen drivers killed in 2003 had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater.These facts are in large part responsible for a change in Colorado’s driving laws in 2005. Starting on July 1, 2005, drivers under age 18 cannot carry passengers under the age of 21 until the driver holds a valid driver’s license for at least six months. After holding a driver’s license for six months, the driver can have no more than one passenger under age 21 until the driver holds a valid driver’s license for at least one year. Another provision beginning in 2005 prohibits driving between midnight and 5 a.m. until the driver holds a valid driver’s license for one full year. There are some exceptions to the new laws, but they are very narrow and specific. Details can be found at http://www.coloradodrivetime.com/lawsmain.cfm.Our teens need to drive, and more importantly to learn to do it well.. It is a move toward independence and a right of passage that crosses that delicate bridge linking parents who feel they are at times moving too quickly toward adulthood and the teenagers themselves who feel they do not always have the freedom and trust they deserve. Here are some suggestions that will help keep them safe while learning to respect the privilege driving is:- Know our driving laws and help your teen to always abide by them. They are for us all.- Remind them often that driving and drugs or alcohol never mix.- Encourage them to follow both of the above even if they are passengers.- Have a clear agreement with your teenager what their driving rights and responsibilities are. Consider how far they can drive, how fast they can get there and with whom they can travel.- Eliminate distractions such as the cell phone and radio (yes, cars and trucks will still move down the road without a radio playing and if you have never experienced give it a try!)- Consider formal driver’s education because it helps new drivers drive better.- Actions speak louder than words, so be your teenager’s best example of a good driver.Share this with your teenager, post it on the fridge (or in your classroom), keep your lines of communication open, and take the time to enjoy this shared responsibility.Remember your health is your responsibility. Health is our greatest asset and it doesn’t happen by accident. If something doesn’t seem right, or questions are left unanswered don’t wait, call your doctor.Dr. Drew Werner of the Eagle Valley Medical Center writes a weekly column for the Daily. He encourages health questions. Write him by e-mail to editor@vaildaily.com or c/o Editor, Vail Daily, P.O. Box 81, Vail, 81658.Vail, Colorado


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