How big is the problem?
In 2013, 2,163 teens in the United States ages 16–19 were killed, and 243,243 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes.1 That means that six teens ages 16–19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.
Young people ages 15-24 represent only 14% of the U.S. population. However, they account for 30% ($19 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males and 28% ($7 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among females.
Who is most at risk?
The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16-19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile drove, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.3
Among teen drivers, those at especially high risk for motor vehicle crashes are:
- Males: In 2013, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 16 to 19 was almost two times that of their female counterparts.1
- Teens driving with teen passengers: The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.4,5
- Newly licensed teens: Crash risk is particularly high during the first months of licensure
*Stats above based on CDC statistics.
Why Does it Happen?
Looking away from the road for a mere five seconds while traveling at 55mph, is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded. Five seconds reading a text. Five seconds talking to a passenger.
It seems like such a short amount of time, but everything could change in five seconds. Everyone is guilty of distracted driving at one point or another. Sometimes, it can be a knee-jerk reaction to look at the back to see what the kids are fighting over, check a traffic report, or call friends or family on the drive home.
New and young drivers are especially susceptible because they’ve logged less time on the road and had less experience to draw from and react. There are many types of distractions.
These types of distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Using a navigation system, radio, CD player, or MP3 player
- Looking through your purse/laptop bag/glove compartment
Driving is a complex skill, one that must be practiced to be learned well. Teenagers’ lack of driving experience, together with risk-taking behavior, puts them at heightened risk for crashes.
Teen drivers have the highest crash statistics over any other group of drivers, and we need to fight this preventable epidemic.
Parents, you play a critical role in teen driver safety, by setting the example and showing them the correct way to focus on driving. It’s important to talk with your teen and set clear expectations. This is one time they shouldn’t get a pass for a minor infraction; their safety is more important. Some choices can’t be reversed.
If you need help talking to your teen about distracted driving, we wrote 10 tips to help you get the conversation started here. At Osceola Garage, we know what it is to have a teen driver on the road. Let’s contribute to making it safe for all teen drivers.