Knowing some facts about teen driving can help parents assess risk areas and create good guidelines for their teens.
How Safe Is Teen Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in 2002 that crashes of motor vehicles are the leading cause of death for teens and young people ages 15-24. In that year, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), there were nearly 3 times as many teen motor vehicle fatalities as teens killed in homicides and motor vehicle deaths caused 40% of the deaths of all 16-17 year olds.
In 2004, FARS, informs us that 5,610 teens dies in motor vehicle crashes. Although teens are only 10% of the total population, they account for 13% of the motor vehicle crash deaths.
Although white male teens drive more miles than African American and Hispanic teens, they are twice as unlikely to die in a crash, according to a 1998 figure from the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine.
What’s behind the accidents and fatalities?
- Alcohol: Of the 16-17 year olds who died in motor vehicle crashes in 2004, the FARS report indicates, an estimated 15% had blood alcohol concentrations over the legal driving limit of 0.08%. Additionally, in 2003, a national CDC survey found that 30% of teens reported riding with a driver who have been consuming alcohol during the past month.
- Distractions: Many kinds of distraction, including passengers and cell phones, have been implicated in teen accidents.
- Lack of Safety Belts: In a 2001 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 10.2 % of high school girls said they rarely or never wore a safety belt, as compared to 18.1% of boys. The numbers overall for teens by race, indicate that fewer white teens rarely or never use a safety belt (13.6%), than Hispanic teens (14.5%) or African American teens (16.1%). Teens, it turns out, have the lowest rate of safety belt use, compared with other age groups, according to a 2003 report from CDC.
Other Risk Factors: Speeding and tail-gating are other reported risky behaviors associated with immature teen drivers. According to the National Safety Council, speed – whether exceeding a posted speed limit or driving at unsafe speed – is the most common mistake in young drivers’ fatal crashes.
What are some responses?
Graduated Licensing: Introduced in Florida and spreading to nearly all US states, the graduated license system allows focus on developing teen drivers. As it turns out, sixteen-year-olds have the highest crash rates of any group of drivers, and since many drivers begin driving at 16, the restrictions of the graduated license target the appropriate population by ensuring that, as much as possible, their driving situations are low risk. Some states, in addition to the limits on high risk situations such as transporting other passengers and driving later at night, add restrictions on cell phone use and add safety belt requirements. Most studies have found crash reductions of 10-30% following adoption of graduated licensing.
Restricted Cell Phone: Use In September, 2005, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that novice drivers be prohibited from using cell phones. On July 7, 2006, North Carolina legislators proposed a bill to prohibit cell phone use by drivers under 18, and it is only the latest state to act. Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Washington state have banned all drivers from using cell phones.
Cell Phone: GPS Several companies have built cell phones that transmit location data, so parents can know where their teens are and the speed they’re traveling at.
Driving Safety for Teens Sources: