Teens see their driver’s license as proof that they’re grown up. That piece of plastic with their photo symbolizes greater independence and freedom. What they don’t realize: A license can also expose them to certain dangers, such as speeding.
Speeding or going too fast for the road conditions, is a major factor in teen crash fatalities. Speeding increases the stopping distance required to avoid a collision even as it reduces the amount of time a driver needs to avoid a collision (called the 3-second rule). It also increases the likelihood that the crash will result in injury. For example, teens driving 40 mph in a 30 mph zone may think they’re “only” going 10 mph over the posted speed limit. But that “small” increase in speed translates to a 78 percent increase in collision energy – that’s nearly double.
When we spoke to teens in focus groups across the country, they defined speeding as "more than 10 miles per hour above posted limits." Half told us they drive that much faster (or more) over the posted speed limit at least sometimes. Think about what effect going 10 mph over the posted speed limit in a residential neighborhood or busy city street could mean for your teen driver. Now consider its effect on a dark, curvy road on a rainy night.
What you can do:
- Talk to your teen about the dangers of speeding. (Share the facts on this page.)
- Stress the importance of staying in control of the car.
- Lead by example. Always follow the posted speed limit, whether or not you’re in a rush.
- Be sure to include “always following the posted speed limit” when you and your teen agree on driving rules. Remind your teen that if this rule is not followed, driving privileges will be taken away.
- As part of supervised driving practice, be sure to cover speed management for various conditions with your teen.
By communicating with your teen and being a positive role model, you can make following the speed limit the rule, not the exception.