Lincoln Police sharing alarming statistics on teen driving

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — The Lincoln Police Department encouraged parents to speak to their teenage drivers on Thursday after sharing alarming statistics.

Capt. Todd Kocian said National Teen Driver Safety Week is the perfect time to ask your teens to stay safe behind the wheel.

“We are asking parents to please take the time to sit down with your teen driver to discuss the importance of safe and responsible driving,” he said. “That simple conversation can save their life.”

Teen drivers only represented 5.2% of all licensed drivers in the state in 2020, but they were involved in 14% of crashes, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

Teens were also involved in 25% of all crashes between 9 p.m. and midnight, the department said.

Brian Ortner from AAA said that drivers between 15 and 19 are involved in a disproportionate number of crashes. And out of nearly 2,300 crashes for that age range in 2020, he said 28 were fatal.

Ortner said that’s 28 too many.

“That’s a pretty high proportionate number of accidents for teens, and again, that’s the age group of 15 to 19, from your new drivers who are just getting their permit or school permits, to having driven a couple of years,” he said. “And 2020 was lower than 2019, but still, that number is too high.”

The data also showed that 31% of crashes involved cellphone use.

LPD says “no Snapchat message is worth a wreck.”

Lincoln Police also say it’s never good for any driver to get behind the wheel after drinking. Teens were involved in 11% of all alcohol-related crashes statewide in 2020, according to NDOT. 

Ortner said distracted driving can be avoided by turning on the do not disturb feature on your cellphone.

“And it’s something we recommend using when you’re driving your vehicle; it just adds that extra layer of safety,” he said. “You know none of us are a perfect driver, but we all need to do what we can to avoid as many distractions as we can when driving a vehicle.”

He said parents should remind teens that driving is a privilege and takes a lot of responsibility.

“Repetition of the same routine over and over will help you build routines and your driving habits,” Ortner said. “Whether it’s rolling up to a stop sign, whether it’s obeying speed limit signs, or whether it’s putting ‘Do not disturb’ on your phone.”

Other stats shared by LPD: Teens were involved in 28% of all single-vehicle rollover crashes and 26% of rear-end crashes.

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