NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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100 Deadliest Days

student driver, teenager, adolescent brain

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

Every day this week I’ve met a “student driver” identified car on my way to work. This got me thinking about what a big step toward freedom, and responsibility, this time is for the young person. 

 Teenagers experience numerous transitions and face a wealth of physical, mental, social, and emotional changes on the path to adulthood.

 It’s important for adults to remember the adolescent brain is a work in progress—especially in the prefrontal cortex, right behind the forehead. That’s where we think ahead, consider consequences and manage impulses. So, even though the teen brain does not alter in size and shape, an astounding amount of growth is still underway.

 Parents and guardians are encouraged to talk with teens about dangerous behavior, especially behind the wheel, and lead by example! Never forget you’re the most important role model your kids have. Sure, their friends are important to them, but the way you behave and fulfill your responsibilities will have a profound and long-lasting effect on your children. This is the best line of defense to keep teens safe behind the wheel and on the road this summer.

 The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the ’100 Deadliest Days’ for teenage drivers. According to AAA, the number of vehicle crash fatalities involving teen drivers rise during this time.

 Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury-related death in North Dakota. Motor vehicle crash fatalities and injuries are sudden, violent, and traumatic events. The impact is long-lasting, often permanent, and extends beyond the victims to impact the lives of the victim’s family, friends, and community.

 Some factors that contribute to fatal teen accidents include speeding, drinking and driving, and distracted driving. Seat belts are the single most effective safety device to prevent death and injury in a motor vehicle crash.

 Seat belts protect you by:

  • ­ Keeping you in the vehicle
  • ­Spreading the force of impact over a large area and the strongest part of the body
  • Allowing your body to slow down gradually, lessening the impact on internal organs
  • Preventing impact with the interior of the vehicle
  • Preventing collision with other occupants of the vehicle
  • Preventing trauma to the brain and spinal cord caused by sudden change in motion

Fortunately, most people who drive and ride in motor vehicles in North Dakota understand how important it is to wear a seat belt.  A survey of observed seat belt use in North Dakota in 2017 showed 8 out of every 10 people wear a seat belt (79.3%).

 All North Dakotans, especially newer drivers, should know that they can save their lives, and the lives of others, from motor vehicle crashes by taking personal responsibility. This includes wearing seat belts at all times, not driving while distracted by cell phones or any other form of distraction, driving only when sober, and obeying all posted speed limits.

 Source: https://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/safety/docs/crash-summary.pdf

 

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