Auto Safety and Teen Drivers
Of all the motor vehicle crashes, teen drivers are likely to be involved. Nearly 6,000 teens die each year in car accidents.
Teen drivers face different types of distractions than adults because they are so new to driving and are easily influenced by pressure from their peers to practice unsafe driving.
- Reckless driving is the leading cause of death among teenage drivers, causing 77 percent of fatalities.
- Speeding is the next deadly at 38 percent.
- Surprisingly, alcohol only plays a role in less than 25 percent of teen fatalities.
(The overlapping in percentages is due to more than one of these factors causing a crash.)
Predictable Patterns and Circumstances
These accidents have predictable patterns and circumstances that can be prevented. The following is a list of these likely patterns and situations.
Nighttime driving. Teens are twice as likely to crash at night, although fatal crash rates for 16-year-olds are higher at any time of day. Nearly 60 percent of young teens' nighttime crashes happen before midnight. Weekend nights during the summer months also have a higher fatality rate.
To and from school. More teens are driving during these times and are more likely to have other teens in the car.
Teen passengers. Fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers are much more likely to occur when other teenagers are in the car. The risk of a fatal crash increases in proportion to the number of teenager passengers in the car, so to help prevent distractions, reduce the number of passengers for teen drivers.
Speeding and basic driving errors. Most new drivers are prone to making simple driving errors or overcorrections, often while they are already speeding.
Although cars and roadways have improved and driving laws for new drivers have become more restrictive, the numbers of teen deaths per year has remained steady over the last 10 years. Driver's education programs that connect directly with teens and their personal experiences may be effective in teaching teenagers to drive responsibly, understand the seriousness of car accidents, and not give in to peer pressure. As they develop a responsible attitude about driving, the number of fatal crashed will be reduced.
Choosing a Vehicle for Teen Drivers
As with anything, having the right tools can help prevent accidents. Here is a list of factors to consider when purchasing a car for a teen driver.
Select a larger vehicle. It is suggested that teens drive a mid to large size vehicle.
Invest in a vehicle with modern safety features. You should look for a car with anti-lock brakes, adjustable seats, traction control, and driver and front seat passenger airbags.
Choose a familiar model. People drive better in a car they already feel comfortable in. If you are purchasing a car for a teen driver, consider getting a car similar to the one they used when learning to drive.
Minimize distractions. Restrict the number of technological features.
- Also see: Teenagers and Safe Cars
Visit the Insurance Information Institute Web site for more information on how to choose a safe vehicle for your teenager.