Yes, all available statistics show us that young drivers – especially those age 16 to 19 – are more likely to get in a crash than other age groups. But there's also a promising trend of falling rates of teen accidents. Since 1975, motor vehicle deaths among teens have fallen 73 percent for males and 58 percent for females, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
In 2014, 2,270 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were killed in accidents in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Kentucky in 2014, 97 people under the age of 21 were killed in automotive accidents. Many thousands more were injured.
So why are teen drivers more likely to get in a crash? Here are a few risk factors that have been identified by the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety:
- Teens are generally less experienced drivers
- Teens are still developing their navigation, reaction and car-handling skills
- Teens tend to be overconfident about their ability to deal with roadway hazards
- The dangers of distracted driving are compounded when an inexperienced driver is behind the wheel
- Impaired driving is a major cause of teen driving accidents
- Excess passengers are another significant cause
- Young drivers are more likely to display risky driving behaviors, such as speeding, aggressive driving, and weaving in and out of traffic lanes
Sadly, these factors mean teens are in a high-risk pool. But as a parent, guardian or family member of a teen driver, you can do your part to prevent these crashes. Talk to your teen about the importance of safe driving habits and the rates of crashes among their age group. Let them know how much safer it is to never drive impaired, buckle up, and to eliminate distractions while limiting the number of passengers in the vehicle. These conversations are an important way to keep the accident trend falling among young drivers.