October 16 – 22, 2016 is National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW), a week designated to raise awareness for teen driver safety. Research indicates that teens often recognize they are at higher risk for vehicle crashes than others, but NTDSW endeavors to help these teens better understand both the crash statistics and the specific factors that put them at risk, including distraction, fatigue, drug use, alcohol consumption, as well as overpowering emotions.
Although teenagers drive less than nearly all adults over 19, the number of crashes involving teens at the wheel is disproportionately high. In fact, in the U.S., the rate of fatal crashes per mile for teens (ages 16-19) is 3 times that for adult drivers over age 19. Moreover, the fatal crash rate per mile for 16-17 year olds is double the rate for 18-19 year olds.
With the intention of reducing teen crashes, U.S. states added state-controlled, phased licensing systems, whereby teens would gradually gain driving privileges. Some states also raised the age for obtaining a drivers license. Studies show that these laws have helped lower teen fatal crashes, but we still need to drastically reduce the number of teen driver crashes.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, “Young drivers tend to overestimate their own driving abilities and, at the same time, underestimate the dangers on the road. An Institute research review confirmed that age and experience both have strong effects on teenage drivers’ crash risk. Crash rates for young drivers are high largely because of their immaturity combined with driving inexperience. The immaturity is apparent in young drivers’ risky driving practices such as speeding. At the same time, teenagers’ lack of experience behind the wheel makes it difficult for them to recognize and respond to hazards. They get in trouble trying to handle unusual driving situations, and these situations turn disastrous more often than when older people drive.”
The statistics below, also from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, show the percentage of driver crashes with driver error, speeding, and single vehicle crashes by age. Not surprisingly, teens have a much higher percentage of speeding and driver errors in crashes than other adults. Evidence also shows that the presence of other passengers with teen drivers elevates the risk of crash. For adults over 30, the presence of passengers actually decreases risk of crash.
Percentage of passenger vehicle driver involvements in fatal crashes with specific crash characteristics, by driver age, 2014
Wondering how you can assess your own teen? Click here to find out “What You Need to Know Before Your Teen Gets Behind the Wheel” and “What can you do to reduce these risks for your new teen driver?”
Do you have a new teen driver? If so, we recommend reviewing “How to Guide Your Teen Towards Safe Driving and Independence” (link to earlier post)
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) provides free recommendations for safe and affordable vehicles. Check out the “Best Choices” and “Good Choices” lists, comprised of the safest vehicles appropriate for teen drivers under $20,000 and $10,000 respectively. The list is broken up by large, midsize, minivans, pickups, and small, midsize and large SUVs. To review this list, click here or visit http://www.iihs.org and search for status report 2015.
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