As part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, which runs October 14-20, 2012, we are spending some time this week blogging about the issues surrounding teen drivers in the United States. Today we will focus on teen drivers and risky behavior.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. Drivers who are 16 to 17 years old are involved in nearly SEVEN times as many crashes per mile driven compared with drivers in their 40s, 50s or 60s.
In May The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a startling report which showed the risk of death for teen drivers increased by a whopping 44 percent when there was more than one passenger younger than 21 years of age in the vehicle. That risk doubled with two passengers and quadrupled with three or more young passengers! The study also concluded that adult (over 21) passengers significantly reduced the risks involved in those crashes.
Last week the same Foundation released a follow-up report on the characteristics of fatal crashes involving 16 and 17 year old drivers with teenage passengers. The study found speeding, drinking alcohol and late-night driving were prevalent in those accidents. The study also found that the amount of speeding, alcohol consumption and late-night driving increased with the number of teenage passengers in the vehicle. Also, the risk of a fatal crash increased as the number of teenage passengers increased.
- Speeding was a factor in 30% of fatal crashes involving teen drivers with no teen passengers.
- Speeding was a factor in 44% of fatal crashes involving teen drivers with two teen passengers.
- Late-night driving accidents increased 11% with three or more teen passengers.
- Alcohol use jumped 5% when there were three or more teen passengers.
Recently some states have passed laws to make it illegal for newer drivers to have more than one young passenger in the vehicle or to drive between midnight and 6 a.m. Although this may seem to be an inconvenience to parents and teens alike, the hope is that these new laws will help make our road safer and ultimately, help save lives.
Visit your local DMV/BMV for more information on the driving laws in your state.