COLUMBUS — New teen drivers, ages 16-17, 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. This finding comes as the “100 Deadliest Days” begin, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year.
“Statistics show that teen crashes spike during the summer months because teens are out of school and on the road,” said Dr. David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety executive director. “The Foundation’s research found that inexperience paired with greater exposure on the road could 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 finds that for every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 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 on the rise
The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In 2016, approximately 8,300 injuries and fatalities occurred in Ohio teen driver crashes. This is a 15 percent increase from 2014 and equates to an average of 23 injuries or fatalities every day involving a teen driver.
Three factors that commonly result in deadly teen crashes include:
Distraction: Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes. 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 crashes were not wearing a safety belt. Buckling up significantly reduces the risk of dying or being severely injured in a crash.
Speeding: Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal teen crashes. A recent AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive.
Reversing the Trend
A modern young driver licensing system is proven to reduce teen driver crashes, and save the lives of teens and other road users. Unfortunately, Ohio’s system hasn’t kept up with the latest research on teen driver crash prevention, which has contributed to the rising teen crash rates.
AAA is sponsoring an Ohio Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) coalition, which proposes to modernize Ohio’s young driver licensing system by making two small adjustments:
- Lengthening the Temporary Instruction Permit phase from 6 to 12 months
- Ensuring newly licensed teens are driving only with adult protection after 9 p.m.
- A 12-month permit phase ensures new drivers have the chance to practice driving in all weather conditions with an adult to help keep them safe. Nighttime driving protections are especially vital during the “100 Deadliest Days” when teens often engage in aimless driving at night with friends. In Ohio, 75 percent of Ohio’s young driver nighttime crashes occur before the current midnight limit.
In addition, parents play a vital role in keeping the roads safe 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.
TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season, including the online AAA StartSmart program, which helps parents become effective in-car coaches and manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.