Deadly teen-driver crashes spike in summer

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — New teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year. Over the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during this deadly period. The AAA Foundation’s research found inexperience paired with greater exposure on the road create a deadly combination for teen drivers.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s latest study, Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age, analyzes crash rates per mile driven for all drivers and found that for every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 years old are:

  • 3.9 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash
  • 2.6 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash
  • 4.5 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a crash
  • 3.2 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a fatal crash

Fatal teen crashes are on the rise. The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2015 crash data, the latest data available. To reverse this alarming trend, AAA urges parents to help reduce the number of deadly crashes on the road by getting more involved and talking to their teens about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel.

Three factors that commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers are:

  • Distraction: Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smart phone.
  • Not Buckling Up: In 2015, the latest data available, 60 percent of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash.
  • Speeding: Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. A recent AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive.

To keep roads safer this summer, AAA encourages parents to:

  • Have conversations with their teens early and often about distraction and speeding.
  • Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving.
  • Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.

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