Here’s some more interesting traffic safety information, courtesy of the “2014 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws”, issued by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. We know that youthful drivers are dangerous drivers, but I’ll bet you didn’t know that a recent study found that fatal crash rates per mile driven are twice as high for 16-year-olds as they are for 18 to 19-year-olds. The greatest incidence – 20% – of teenage motor vehicle crash deaths occurs from 9 PM to midnight, which probably doesn’t come as a great surprise to anyone. A number of states have adopted graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems, which include such things as a mandatory waiting period, a nighttime restriction, passenger restrictions and supervised driving for at least 30 hours. These programs have been demonstrated to be effective: states with nighttime driving restrictions show crash reductions of up to 60% during restricted hours, and fatal crash rates are 21% lower for 15 to 17-year-old drivers when they are prohibited from having any teenage passengers in their vehicles, compared to when two or more passengers are allowed. Statistics demonstrate that as the age of obtaining a learner’s permit decreases, fatal crash rates increase. The earlier young people are allowed to learn to drive, and the younger the age at which they become licensed, are both factors associated with higher fatal crash rates.
Young drivers are not only dangerous drivers, they also demonstrate poor judgment in utilizing restraint systems, and in determining when to drive. Studies have shown that seatbelt usage by teens is the lowest of any segment of society, making teenagers the most likely group to fail to utilize seat restraints. In 2010 more than half (54%) of the young drivers killed were unrestrained. Lap-shoulder belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat car occupants by 45% and the risk of moderate-to-critical injuries by 50%. States with primary enforcement laws have higher seat belt use rates. States with primary enforcement seatbelt laws for front seat passengers had a 91% belt use rate in 2013, while states with secondary laws had an 80% belt use rate, according to NHTSA. NHTSA data also reveals that 26% of young drivers aged 15 to 24 killed in crashes in 2011 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher.
If you have a teen driver, or a soon-to-be-teen driver in your family, you should be aware of these frightening statistics, and you should establish a zero-tolerance policy with your teens for violation of any of these important safety – related laws.