Keeping Teens Safe Behind the Wheel

Female teen standing next to car with holding car keys.

During 2015, New Hampshire teen drivers made up two percent of overall drivers, but were involved in more than 16 percent of the car crashes. These crashes were related to teens' inexperience behind the wheel. Both parents and teenagers need to work together to keep teenagers safe behind the wheel.

The Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD’s) Youth Operator Program uses peer leadership groups in New Hampshire high schools to discuss topics such as distracted driving, use of seatbelts and driving while impaired. The program is currently in 15 high schools and uses educational information provided by guest speakers, presentations and various statistics related to the individual school or the state in general.

Using observational assessments that identify driver electronic device usage as well as driver and passenger belt usage in a school’s student parking lot, the Youth Operator Program provides schools with solid statistics to discuss safe driving topics with their students, and is a reason that school administrators have adopted this program.

Safe Driving Reminders

Research shows that teen drivers with supportive, involved parents who set rules are:

  • 30 percent less likely to use a cell phone while driving
  • Half as likely to speed
  • 70 percent less likely to drink and drive
  • Two times more likely to wear seat belts

When a parent is giving their newly licensed teen the keys to a vehicle, it can be nerve-wracking. Parent support plays a vital role in preventing teen driver crashes. Parents have the greatest influence over their teenager’s driving behavior.

Since March of 2017, there has not been a 16- or 17-year-old driver fatality in the state. Although this is a better number than other states, it does not allow us to relax and stop providing education on safe driving. The Youth Operator Program continuously works to provide new and exciting learning opportunities to guide teens toward safer decisions behind the wheel.

For those interested in learning more or possibly working with the Youth Operator Program, please email: