GLEN BURNIE, MD (October 12, 2023) – Every year in Maryland, more than 13,000 young drivers are involved in police-reported motor vehicle crashes. Nearly 6,000 are injured and 14 are killed each year. This Teen Driver Safety Week, starting Sunday, October 15, through Saturday, October 21, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office is urging teens – and their parents – to remember important rules behind the wheel involving impaired driving, seat belt use, distracted and drowsy driving, speeding and large numbers of passengers.
“Teens are at a greater risk on the road due to their limited experience behind the wheel,” said Motor Vehicle Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Wes Moore’s Highway Safety Representative. “We need teens to hold one another accountable and ensure their friends are making safe decisions behind the wheel. We want everyone to make it to their destination safely, and that can happen when we all look out for each other.”
- Distracted Driving. Cell phone use while driving is more than just risky — it can be deadly. It’s also illegal in Maryland. Parents should set an example and remind teens about the dangers of texting and using a phone while driving. Distracted driving is not limited to cell phone use. Eating or drinking while driving and paying attention to passengers, audio and climate controls can result in distractions. Also remember that wearing headphones while driving is illegal in Maryland, and can distract one from hearing sirens, horns or other important sounds.
- Impaired Driving. Because of their age, teens cannot legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol and cannabis. Last year in Maryland, however, seven drivers involved in fatal crashes who had alcohol or drugs in their system were between ages of 15 and 20 – all under the minimum drinking age. Alcohol isn’t the only substance that can keep someone from driving safely. Like other drugs, cannabis affects a driver’s ability to react. Driving is a complex task, and cannabis slows reaction time. All motorists must remember driving under the influence of any impairing substance, including illicit or prescription drugs or over-the-counter medication, could have deadly consequences.
- Seat Belt Safety. Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways to stay safe in a vehicle. Too many teens, however, don’t buckle up. Often, if a teen driver involved in a fatal crash is unbuckled, other passengers who are killed also are unbuckled. Adults are asked to remind teens it’s important that everyone in the car is buckled up, front seat and back – every trip, every time.
- Speed Limits: Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially teens. While males are more likely to be involved in fatal speeding-related crashes than females, it is important to remind all teens to always drive within the speed limit. The probability of death or serious injury increases at higher speeds, doubling for every 10 mph over 50 mph that a vehicle travels. All motorists must remember that posted speed limits are set assuming ideal weather and traffic conditions. Bad weather, areas of road work and other factors may require motorists to drive below the posted speed limit.
- Research shows the risk of a fatal crash goes up dramatically in relation to the number of passengers in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers. Parents should enforce the passenger restriction for teens with provisional licenses, which do not allow for passengers under age 18 other than immediate family members without a qualified supervising driver for the first 151 days.
Learn more about the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office at ZeroDeathsMD.gov or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @ZeroDeathsMD.