In August many Nevada students returned to school. Many of these students spent the last year and a half participating in distance learning or hybrid learning, and this school year marks a return to some normalcy. While August means back to school, it also means an increase of new teen drivers. Las Vegas officials are seeing an increase in crashes, especially fatal ones. Unfortunately, many of these accidents involve or are caused by teen drivers. The 2019 Nevada’s Department of Traffic Safety report states that there were 161 accidents caused by teen drivers out of a total of 330. More than 78 percent of Nevada’s fatal accidents occur on Clark County highways and roads, and many of these occur near or in school zones. Additionally young drivers make up 10.9 percent of fatalities in Clark County.
What Is Causing the Influx of Teen Accidents
To answer this question, the Nevada Department of Public Safety looks at the general pattern of fatal accidents in Nevada. In general, fatal accidents are up in Nevada and we have seen a 30 percent increase from last year with 194 fatalities so far. Since teens make up almost 11 percent of crashes, it means that of the fatalities, teens made op 19-20 of the crashes. In 2020, there were 2,400 teen involved fatal accidents on roadways throughout the United States.
Officials point to poor safety at school zones and crosswalks as a major reason for these accidents. The Traffic Safety Department and the Las Vegas Police Department have increased student awareness regarding car crash safety and guidelines when driving in school zones. Police have begun making more stops and citations near crosswalks, school zones, and traffic lights near schools. Nearly 200 teens have been stopped, many without a license and only a learner’s permit.
Officials also focus on the four major ways students travel to school when discussing safety: car, bus, bike, walking. They also invited many Las Vegas area students to participate in the Annual National Summer Transportation Institute where students learn more about risks they may face as a teen drivers as well tips on how to stay safe. The course covers other important topics such as driving under the influence, distracted driving, crash reenactments, and stories from families of teens involved in fatal crashes. The Nevada Traffic Safety Department (NTSD) provides incentives to students and parents that participate and hope that this class can provide more in-depth understanding the Drivers Ed classes required to gain a license. Lastly, a new grant has allowed the NTSD to expand this program to Nevada classrooms with the “Zero Teen Fatality” program. This can widen the outreach and ensure all teen drivers are safe and ready to be on the road. 
Tips For Teen Drivers
While experience can be one of the best ways for teens to learn about the road, teaching teens certain tips can reduce their chances of being involved in a car crash. Before school starts, here are some important tips to learn.
- Buckle Up: This sounds the simplest, but In fatal crashes involving 16-20 year old, sixty percent of teens were unbuckled during the crash. Wearing a seatbelt is one of the easiest ways to prevent a fatality during a crash.
- Get Off the Phone: Eleven percent of fatal teen crashes involved a distracted driver, including texting while driving. Whatever is happening on the phone can wait until you park the car. If it is an absolute emergency for you to text or pick up the phone, pull over in a safe place.
- Slow Down: Speed limits exist for a reason and are the law. They are not a suggestion and going over the indicated speed can increase the chance of being in an accident.
- Do Not Drink and Drive: This one may also sound cliché, but drinking and driving can have devastating consequences for yourself and others. If you are underage, you should not be consuming alcohol, and if you are legal, use a designated driver or ride-share to get home.
- Limit Night Driving: Inexperienced drivers should limit the amount of time they drive at night, and Nevada drivers’ licenses are often issued with restrictions/ curfews for those under eighteen. Seventeen percent of teen-involved fatal accidents occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight.
- Be Aware of the Weather: If teens are inexperienced in rain, snow or other weather conditions, it is best to avoid them. Instead, drive with your child in these situations and help them handle these conditions with more confidence.
- Find the Right Car: While buying an inexpensive car might be the route many parents go, ensure that you double check the safety features and airbags of the vehicle. These features are very important for new drivers and can prevent fatalities in a crash.