Home > Ask Gary > Do teens or seniors cause more accidents? How do we make our teenager more safety conscious?

Do teens or seniors cause more accidents? How do we make our teenager more safety conscious?

TeensWearSeatbeltTeen drivers are involved in more accidents than seniors. One important issue for consideration is that most senior accidents involve health issues that could not have been prevented, whereby accidents involving teens are usually related to risky behaviors and are preventable.

I’m glad you asked these questions because a recent survey shows that only 25% of parents have had a serious talk with their kids about the key components of driving. Parents need to take the time to talk with their kids about the dangers of driving.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there is a major problem for teen’s risk of accidents with the 16-19 year olds having the highest percentage of driving fatalities. That is why next week is National Teen Driver Safety Week, sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to bring attention to this national problem. There are many tragedies that could have been prevented. The 2015 theme is “5 to Drive” with a focus on parents talking to their teens about these dangers and rules of the road:

1. No Drinking and Driving – almost one out of five (19 percent) of the young drivers (15 to 19 years old) involved in fatal crashes had been drinking, even though they were too young to legally buy or possess alcohol.

2. Buckle Up. Every Trip. Every Time. Front Seat and Back. – 64 percent of all the young (13- to 19-year-old) passengers of teen (15- to 19-year-old) drivers who died in motor vehicle crashes in 2013 weren’t restrained. Remember—it’s the law to buckle up in Massachusetts.

3. Put Down the Cell. One Text or Call Could Wreck It All. – The age group of 15 to 19 years old has the highest percentage of drivers who were distracted by cell phone use and involved in a fatal crash. In 2013, 156 people were killed in crashes that involved a distracted teen driver.DrivingTeen Cell

4. Stop Speeding Before It Stops You – In 2013, almost one-third (29 percent) of teen drivers involved in a fatal crash were speeding.

5. No More than One Passenger at a Time. – The risk of a fatal crash goes up with each additional passenger.

For more information and tips about how to speak to your teens, visit NHTSA’s website, www.safercar.gov/parents. This site has detailed information and statistics about the five rules designed to help save the lives of teen drivers.

How big is the problem?

About 2,650 teens in the United States aged 16–19 are killed yearly and almost 292,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes. That means that seven teens (ages 16 to 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% or $19 billion of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males and 28% or $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- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.

Among teen drivers, those at especially high risk for motor vehicle crashes are:Teen texting
• Males: The motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 16 to 19 is almost two times that of their females of the same age.
• Teens driving with teen passengers: The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. For example, those vehicles with four teens are twice as likely to be in a crash that a vehicle with two teens—because of the distractions.
• Newly licensed teens: Crash risk is particularly high during the first months of licensure.

What other factors put teen drivers at risk?
• Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous situations.
• Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and tailgate. The presence of male teenage passengers increases the likelihood of this risky driving behavior.
• Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in 2012, 37% were speeding at the time of the crash and 25% had been drinking.
• Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use. In 2013, only 55% of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else.
• High blood alcohol levels and the risk of involvement in a motor vehicle crash are greater for teens than for older drivers.
• In 2012, 23% of drivers aged 15 to 20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes were drinking.

  • In a national survey conducted in 2013, 22% of teens reported that, within the previous month, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. Among students who drove, 10% reported having driven after drinking alcohol within the same one-month period.
  •  In 2012, 71% of drivers aged 15 to 20 were killed in motor vehicle crashes after drinking and driving were not wearing a seat belt.

Toyota has developed a website with resources and a pledge for teens and parents. They help you coach your teen and sign a mutual agreement for both parents and teens. I urge all parents to help prevent teen accidents by talking to your teens and explaining how risky behavior behind the wheel puts their lives at risk, something very difficult for teens to comprehend. (“It won’t happen to me.”) All of us at Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion want your teens to be safe in their homes at the end of every day.

Ask Gary Jaffarian

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