Sadie Says …

Answers to frequently asked questions about safe driving

Q: My teenage granddaughter is learning to drive. Things have changed a lot since I got my license.

What information should her parents and I be sharing with her as she gets behind the wheel?

A: As the parent or grandparent of a teen driver, learn teen driver safety by the numbers.

Each year, almost 2,200 teens die in car crashes — that’s six teens every day.

Be aware of the seven risky behaviors that teens do in cars that are especially dangerous and cause too many deaths.

Skipping the seat belt

Nearly half of teens killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts.


Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off of the road an average of five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that is like traveling the length of a football field, blindfolded.

Afraid and not speaking up

50 percent of teen passengers report feeling unsafe riding with a driver who isn’t alert.

And, 1/3 of teens feel unsafe riding with a parent.

Too many passengers

When two or more teens ride in a vehicle with a teen driver, the risk of a fatal crash can double or triple.

Drinking and driving

17 percent of the drivers between the ages of 16-20 who were killed in crashes had a BAC of .08 or higher. For anyone under age 21, any amount of alcohol is unsafe — and illegal.

Driving when its dark

The risk of a fatal crash at night can be more than three times higher for teens than for adults. Among teen nighttime crashes, 58 percent happen between 9 p.m. and midnight. The fatal crash rate of 16 year olds nearly is twice as high at night.


Nearly 1/3 of teens killed in crashes were speeding. Speeding is not just going over the

Speed limit — it’s also driving too fast for conditions.

Your teen driver also needs to be aware of the seat belt laws:

If you are under age 18, Pennsylvania’s Seat Belt Law is a primary law.

This means that if you are the driver, you will be ticketed if:

• You are under age 18 and not buckled up.

• Anyone under age 18 in your vehicle is not correctly buckled up.

• Anyone in your vehicle is under age 8 and is not in a correct child restraint

It doesn’t matter where your passengers are seated in your vehicle. If they are under age 18, and not correctly restrained, you, as the driver, will be ticketed.

If you are a driver age 18 or over and police pull you over for another violation, you will receive a second ticket if you aren’t wearing a seat belt. If your front seat passenger is age 18 or older and is not buckled up, they can be ticketed.

(The first violation could be a number of things, including unbuckled passengers under 18.)

And consider this — anyone not buckled up in your vehicle could kill you in a crash — even if you are wearing a seat belt.

One more for the numbers:

A recent survey found that 80 percent of teens cite their parents as having the most influence over teen driving behaviors.

So, whether you are the grandparent, the parent or an older sibling, you can help the teen in your family prevent destructive driving decisions. Set rules and be a good role model. Drive alert, focused and unimpaired and always buckle up — both you and your passengers.

Drive the way you want your teen to drive!

Sadie Says … is brought to you by the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition’s Safe Communities Task Force, whose members include AAA North Penn, AARP, Area Agency on Aging and regional transportation and highway safety advocates.