Risk of teen drivers reaches others

New teenage drivers are more dangerous than previously thought: Nearly two of every three people killed in crashes involving 15- to 17-year-old drivers are people other than the driver, auto club AAA will announce today.

Teenagers have long been the riskiest on the road. AAA’s analysis shows that unlike elderly drivers, who mostly kill themselves when they crash, new teen drivers involved in wrecks have an impact far beyond their own families.

“When we talk about teen driver safety, it tends to be viewed as a problem that affects teen drivers,” says Robert Darbelnet, CEO of the auto club. “I don’t want to de-emphasize the importance of (teenage) casualties, but your mother might be in a car hit by a teen driver.”

James Champagne, chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association, agrees. “The safety of all members of the driving public is jeopardized unless we reduce the number of teen driver crashes,” Champagne says.

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Crashes from 1995 through 2004 involving drivers 15 to 17 killed 30,917 people, according to the AAA’s analysis of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. About 64% of the deaths were passengers, people in other vehicles or pedestrians.

Teen drivers killed occupants of other vehicles at a rate almost five times as high as elderly drivers and about three times as high as 45- to 49-year-old drivers, according to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analysis of federal data from 1993 through 1997.

AAA plans to use the findings to push state legislators to enact tougher teen-licensing laws. Thirty-two states restrict whom new teen drivers can transport and when they can drive.

The Insurance Institute study says teenagers’ risk of dying in a crash nearly doubles when one male passenger is in the car; it more than doubles when two or more young male passengers are in the car.

Jennifer Reeves has been working to change teen-licensing laws since her 18-month-old daughter, Hanna, was killed in a crash involving a teen driver in 1999.

Reeves’ sedan was rear-ended by a large pickup driven by a 16-year-old girl carrying three teenage passengers. The teens walked away from the San Antonio crash without injuries; Reeves and her 6-week-old daughter had minor injuries. Hanna was pronounced dead when she got to the hospital.

“They just lack the experience and the maturity to multitask,” Reeves says of young drivers. “Limiting the number of passengers gives them the ability to concentrate.”

Researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have found that 4% of children in the crashes it studied were being driven by teens. Twelve percent of kids with serious injuries were in teen-driven vehicles.

Children’s Hospital’s findings, based on an analysis of crashes reported to State Farm Insurance, showed that teens also are transporting far more than their peers: 40% of the teen-driven child passengers in the study were 12 years or younger.

“It’s tempting to be lured by the convenience of having other options for getting kids to and from school and practices, but the risks are just too great,” AAA’s Darbelnet says.

Source:  USA TODAY

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1 Comment

  1. Let’s get more teenagers to http://www.teenlivedrive.com
    Then reward the teenagers for raising the level of
    conscious by more driver repetitive education.


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