(WSYR-TV) — We are in the middle of National Teen Driver Safety Week and the National Road Safety Foundation reminds parents that this is a good time to have a conversation with teens about safe driving habits. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens in the United States.

Among The Key Issues That Deserve Parental Discussion Are:

1. Impaired Driving: While teens are too young to legally consume alcohol, nationally 19% of teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2021 had alcohol in their system. Marijuana also affects a driver’s ability to react to their surroundings. Remind teens that driving under the influence of any impairing substance — including many prescription drugs or over-the-counter medication — can have deadly consequences.

2. Seat Belts: Wearing a seat belt is a simple way teens can stay safer in a vehicle. Yet too many teens aren’t buckling up. More than half (51%) of the teen drivers who died in crashes in 2021 were unbuckled. Parents should encourage their teens to be firm and confirm that everyone is buckled before the vehicle moves.

3. Distracted Driving: According to the most recent data, in 2021, among teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, 7% were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. Cell phone use while driving is more than just risky — it can be deadly. Texting while driving is outlawed in 49 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. Distracted driving isn’t limited to cell phone use. Other passengers, audio and climate controls in the vehicle, and eating or drinking while driving can be dangerous distractions for any driver. 

4. Speed: Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, but it’s especially deadly for teens with less experience. In 2021, almost one-third (32%) of all teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. Data shows that males were more likely to be involved in fatal speeding-related crashes than females. Remind teens to always drive within the speed limit.

5. Passengers: Passengers in a teen’s vehicle can lead to disastrous consequences. Research shows the risk of a fatal crash dramatically increases in direct relation to the number of passengers in a vehicle. The likelihood that a teen driver will engage in risky behavior triples when multiple passengers are in the same vehicle.

Surveys show that teens whose parents have discussions on safe driving behavior and set firm rules are typically engaged in less risky driving behaviors and were involved in fewer crashes.

The National Road Safety Foundation offers tips for talks with teens in its Passport to Safe Driving, available free online at  https://www.nrsf.org/spread-word.

NHTSA also has detailed information and statistics on teen driving, and outlines tips parents can use to address teen driver safety risks at www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving.