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. This alarming 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. Over the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during this deadly period.
“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 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.
“Parents are the front line of defense for keeping our roads safer this summer,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA Director of State Relations. “It all starts with educating teens about safety on the road and modeling good behavior, like staying off the phone and buckling your safety belt.”
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.