The Dangers Of Teenage Driving

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Car accidents are the number one cause of death among teenagers in the United States. Per mile driven, teens ages 16-19 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than drivers over 20 years old, especially in their first year behind the wheel. It is important for teens, parents and drivers who share the road to understand these dangers and how to prevent them.

Although youth drivers account for only 14% of the overall population, they represent 30% of the total cost of motor vehicle injuries among males and 28% among females. While the ages of 16-19 represent the most perilous driving years, males in that age frame are twice as likely as females to get in deadly motor vehicle crashes.

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Inexperience and immaturity are the primary causes of the increased risk of teenage driving. Untrained eyes are more likely to underestimate hazardous situations on the road. Speeding and tailgating is more likely with teenage drivers, and 39% of 2010 fatal crashes that involved teen male drivers were attributed to speeding. Young drivers have the lowest rate of seat belt usage compared to all other age groups. In 2009 56% of teens involved in fatal crashes were not wearing their seat belts.

When teens have other teenage passengers in their vehicle the likelihood of a crash is increased due to heightened distractions, with the risk rising with every added passenger. Distracted driving is becoming a national epidemic, especially with cell phone technology at our fingertips. When it comes to distracted driving, the young drivers ages 16-19 are the most likely age group to talk and text on their cell phones.

The fight against underage drinking in this country is a tough battle, and frighteningly, alcohol is involved in about 20-25% of fatal teenage car wrecks. A 2011 survey found that 24% of teenagers polled admitted to having ridden in a car with a teenage driver who had been drinking within the last month.

Preventative measures must be taken to bring teenage auto fatalities down. Comprehensive drivers education classes referred to as graduated drivers licensing (GDL) programs have aided in a reduction of 38-40% of fatal teenage crashes. Such GDL licensing systems were created and designed to ease drivers onto roadways by delaying full licensure while first allowing teens to drive in low-risk scenarios, such as only during daylight hours and/or only without the presence of other teenage drivers. Through the GDL system licenses are administered in a three-tiered method. Forty-six states currently implement a GDL system, however the effectiveness of the programs varies among states.

Government and educational systems are not the only parties responsible for safe teen driving – parents must set safe standards. Parents must lead by example and adhere to the rules of the road, especially when their teenager is in the vehicle with them. Beyond state laws, parents must set their own rules and consequences. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that parents write up a contract for their teenage driver that includes penalties for any rule that they break.

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The Dangers Of Teenage Driving. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 16, 2024, from
“The Dangers Of Teenage Driving.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
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