According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute, teen drivers in the U.S. have a disproportionately high number of road accidents compared to other drivers in all other age categories.
The Facts Don’t Lie. Data from the CDC paints a clearer picture by showing that male teen drivers account for 30% ($19 billion) of all motor vehicle injury costs in the same gender category.
Female teen drivers account for 28% ($7 billion) of total auto injury costs among females. In addition, the probability of a teen to be involved in an auto accident is at its highest between ages 16 and 17.
Although these figures may seem horrifying, the rate of teen auto accidents has been falling steadily over time. In 1978, 7,295 male teens lost their lives in auto accidents while 2,645 female teens met the same fate. In comparison, only 1,644 male and 878 female teen auto-related fatalities occurred in 2013.
Taming the Terror…and Texting. In an effort to tame this road carnage, various private, non-profit and governmental bodies have launched diverse programs, plans, and strategies targeting teen drivers.
Results of a new study carried out by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and published in March 2015 show that a staggering 60% of all teen driver crashes are caused by driver distraction. As a result, the AAA has vigorously advocated banning mobile phone use while driving.
This contradicts the NHTSAs’ assertion that only 14% of teen auto accidents are attributable to driver distraction. Another course of action championed by the NHTSA and others is alcohol prohibition.
Presciently and sadly, NHTSA data shows that approximately one-third of teens between the ages of 15 and 20 that are killed in auto accidents have shown traces of alcohol.
Don’t Mess with the F. Florida is a state that has taken tough legal stance against teen drunk driving. Alcohol use is illegal for anyone 21 years or younger that isn’t for religious or educational purposes. Offenders with BAC levels as low as .02% can attract harsh penalties like imprisonment for up to 12 months, fines of up to $4,000, and license suspension for up to one year.
The National Safety Council has also weighed in on this scourge by recommending passenger restriction for all teen drivers. According to the IIHS, a single passenger increases a teen driver’s road accident risk by 48%. This figure increases to 258% with two passengers, and 307% with three or more passengers.
Other solutions proposed by various concerned parties include night driving restrictions, additional training even after licensure, and introduction of graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs.
The Solution. The facts are frightening. However, parents, guardians, schools, and government and state organizations are all trying to win the battle over teen car accidents.
Hopefully with a valiant effort, education, and support, we can all fight against the teen auto accident pandemic to help keep teens safe.