The '100 Deadliest Days of Teen Driving' in 2017 have begun

Deadly crashes involving teen drivers increased more than 10%

By James A. Riley - Digital Content Producer
Headline Goes Here Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved

RICHMOND - Deadly crashes involving teen drivers increased more than 10-percent in one year, according to AAA.

Also, new teen drivers are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly accident.

Distracted driving plays a role in more than half of teen crashes and 60-percent of teen drivers killed were not wearing a seatbelt.

Jennifer Rian with AAA said, "What we know about teens is that they are not only a danger to themselves but to other people on the road. Your previous research actually showed that the vast majority of people that are injured and killed when a teen driver is behind the wheel is someone other than the teen."

Here in the Commonwealth, most people think cell phones are the biggest distraction for teens, followed by inexperience, other passengers and drinking behind the wheel.

 

Read the full report below.

In an exclusive survey conducted in May for AAA Mid-Atlantic by Public Policy Polling, 775 licensed drivers residing in Virginia were asked their opinions on teen driving crashes. When asked for opinions on the best way to prevent teen driver crashes, 49 percent of respondents believed that the combination of more driver education, more practice behind the wheel before getting a license, stronger penalties for distracted driving, and more active guidance by parents were all keys to preventing teen driver crashes. Summertime is an ideal time to have that long talk with teens about distractions, speeding and the dangers of not wearing their seatbelts. 

“AAA’s poll confirms that Virginia residents are fully cognizant of the fact that every single day car crashes end more teenage lives than cancer, homicide and suicide combined,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “If history repeats itself, then we know that teens are at even greater risk during the 100 deadliest days of summer (between Memorial Day and Labor Day) when parents tend to give their teens more freedom. To change this outcome, it is imperative for parents to speak with their teens about the need to be extra cautious while driving during the summer months.” 

For every mile on the road, 16-17-year-old drivers are four times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash and three times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash, the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds. 

“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 across the nation. 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 get more involved in their teen’s driving experience, monitor their behavior behind the wheel and talk to them about risky driving behaviors.

“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 smartphone.

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.

Driving distractions and inexperience are well-recognized factors that greatly contribute to vehicle crashes involving young drivers as the AAA poll of licensed drivers in Virginia shows.  Other findings from the Virginia poll include:

When asked what they believed were the biggest reasons for teen driving crashes, Virginians responded distraction by cell phone (48%), lack of driving experience (17%), distraction by passengers (18%) and drinking and driving (8%). Another 10 percent were uncertain.

When asked what Virginians believed was the leading cause of death for teens, Virginians polled said, motor vehicle crashes (46%), suicide (25%), homicide (7%) and cancer (3%). Another 19% were not certain.  

Thirty-two percent of respondents believe 10-20 percent of teens involved in crashes within the first year of receiving their driver’s license. Another 21 percent believe it the rate is as high as 20-30 percent of teens being involved in crashes within the first year of receiving a driver's license.

When asked what age group they thought has the highest fatality rate that polled 72 % responded ages 18-24.

Public Policy Polling conducted the survey of licensed drivers residing in Virginia in the period from May 17-18, 2017 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.

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.

TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges. Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills. AAA also offers membership discounts for new teen drivers to help keep them safe on the road in case of an emergency. 

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users.

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