Teen Driver - Ed Cunicelli, courtesy The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
How to prevent serious brain injury in crashes
Dr. Durbin, explaining some of the findings from the report (click here to see the YouTube video), highlights three important measures that can help prevent traumatic brain injuries in teen crashes.
The first line of defense, according to Dr. Durbin, is to try to prevent vehicle crashes from occurring in the first place. That’s where Graduated Driver Licensing laws attempt to keep teens out of situations that they’re not quite ready for.
Since we know that sometimes crashes do occur, the second line of defense against serious brain injury to teens is for teens to be wearing their seat belts at all times.
Even in that case, sometimes crashes with resulting injuries occur. The third line of defense at this point is aggressive acute care at an appropriate trauma center hospital and effective rehabilitation care to give these injured teens their best chance possible at reintegrating themselves into life.
What parents can do
As parents, our roles are to keep our children as safe as possible, including when they approach driving age and begin that all-important first step toward independence. Dr. Durbin points to four key areas where parents can make a difference in helping to keep their teens safe behind the wheel and as passengers when other teens are driving.
- If your teen is learning to drive, make sure they undergo good, quality practice in a wide range of environments so that they can get the most experience possible before they can be on the road by themselves.
- When they’re on the road by themselves, monitor the kinds of driving they’re doing and keep them out of situations that they’re not ready for.
- Enforce the Graduated Driver Licensing law in the state where you live. If it’s not a strong enough law, sometimes going beyond that law is necessary.
- Ensure that your teen is always wearing his or her seat belt when they’re behind the wheel or riding as a passenger. If they’re behind the wheel as the driver, teach your teens to be sure that all the passengers are wearing their seat belts before the vehicle moves.
The full report, Miles to go: Monitoring Progress in Teen Driver Safety (2012), can be downloaded here in PDF format.