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Why Do Teen Drivers Have More Fatal Accidents?


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,270 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed in auto accidents in 2014. This averages to six deaths each day.

Teenagers are at a higher risk of motor vehicle crashes than any other age group, and research suggests that teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than drivers aged 20 and older.

So, the question remains, what factors put teenage drivers at an increased risk of having a fatal or serious accident.

5 Risk Factors Facing Teen Drivers

  1. Teens Underestimate Traffic-Related Dangers. Teens are more likely to underestimate dangerous situations and are less likely to recognize potential hazards. This may be due to inexperience, but the result is certain: teens are more likely to make critical decision errors behind the wheel, resulting in more crashes.
  2. Teens Aren’t Wearing Seatbelts. Seatbelts save lives – there is no disputing that fact. Unfortunately, teenagers have some of the lowest rates of seatbelt use. In 2015, only 61 percent reported regular seatbelt use when riding with someone else.
  3. Drinking and Driving. In addition to being inexperienced drivers, the majority of teenagers lack adequate experience with alcohol and responsible drinking. A national survey conducted in 2015 found 20 percent of teenagers reported that they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking within the past month. 8 percent claimed they had driven after drinking alcohol within the same one-month period. Note: Even at the lowest levels of blood alcohol concentration, risk of an automobile accident is higher for teens than older drivers.
  4. Risky Behavior. Teenage drivers or more likely to speed and tailgate than older drivers. Further, researchers have noted that the presence of male teen passengers increase the likelihood of this kind of driving behavior.
  5. Driver Distraction. Teen drivers are among those most likely to use an electronic device while behind the wheel; however, driver distractions are not limited to texts and phone calls. Use of navigation systems and radios, talking to passengers, putting on makeup, and eating and drinking are all classified as driver distractions. Distractions greatly reduce a drivers ability to drive safety and when coupled with the above risk factors, distracted driving can result in exponential increases in risk of a crash.

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