Doug / 09-23-2014 / Auto Accidents

Teenage Drivers Behind the Wheel

For many years the relationship between age and driving behavior has interested safety researchers and administrators. Generally it is common knowledge that there are higher risks associated with teenage drivers. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of teenage deaths across the United States.

Citation rates for 16 year olds is 1.8 times higher than drivers of all ages, while the citation rate for drivers 16 to 19 years-old is 2.1 times higher than drivers of all ages. The numbers of teenage drivers who had been drinking that were involved in accidents are much higher than of those amongst drivers of all other ages as well.

In 2008, Crashes involving drivers ranging from 15-20 years-old were the cause of 6,428 traffic crash related fatalities. In 2008 North Carolina had the highest reported number of deaths, 250 deaths, related to teenage driver crashes.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a total of 2,823 teenagers ages 13-19 died in motor vehicle crashes in 2012 and although that number is fewer than what was reported in 2011, the numbers are still too high.  About 2 out of every 3 teenagers killed were males. Seventy-nine percent of teenage motor vehicle deaths in 2012 were passenger occupants, while 10% were pedestrians, 5% motorcyclists, 3% bicyclists, 1% all terrain vehicles and 2 % in other kinds of vehicles.  In 2012, June and July had the highest number of teen crash deaths.  In 2012, Fifty-three percent of teenage crash deaths occurred on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Most often teen crash deaths occur in the late hours of the night between 9:00 p.m. and midnight.

AAA released a study in May of 2012, which indicated that the risk of crash increases with the number of occupants in the vehicle.  AAA recently did a study of North Carolina families, who contain young drivers. The study revealed that crashes are 2 times more likely in the 1st month as after 2 years of driving. The three highest contributing factors the study highlighted were: driving too fast, not paying attention, and failing to yield.

Common factors that lead to teenage crashes are driving too fast, right-of-way issues, not paying attention, improper turns, failure to sign/signal, alcohol/drugs, lane changing/passing, and driving on the wrong side of the road. These factors include driving techniques that seasoned/experienced drivers are aware of and younger drivers tend to be more prone to.

It is clear from studies and common knowledge that teenage drivers are at higher risk for collisions and although the laws have gotten stricter in many states regarding distracted driving and seatbelt requirements, the risk posed by inexperienced drivers still remains. The best things families with young drivers can do is make them aware and encourage safe driving behavior. Thousands of people of all ages die each year due to motor vehicle accidents. Some accidents are due to defective vehicles, some due to weather conditions and other due to the negligence of drivers.

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