It’s an exciting new time when teens learn to drive. It brings new independence to them, their parents and often their friends and siblings. But the statistics of teen deaths associated with teen driving in the U.S. are startling.
From 2007 and 2011 nearly 16,000 16- to 19-year-olds died in car crashes when they or another teen was driving. The per capita fatal crash rate for this age group is 35 percent higher than for drivers ages 20 and older.
The good news is that Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws have helped reduce deaths associated with teen driving. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute found that the states with the strongest GDL laws see the lowest rates of deaths associated with teen driving.
To get more detail and a clearer picture, Erie Insurance recently worked with IIHS to examine crash data from the U.S. Department of Transportation to show state-by-state comparisons of teen crash death rates when teens are behind the wheel.
Still, “The bottom line is that one death is too many,” says Karen Kraus Phillips, vice president at Erie Insurance. “Tens of thousands of teen injuries and deaths happen on the road every year and car crashes remain the leading cause of death for this age group. Our goal is to raise awareness of dangerous driving behaviors so teens adopt safer driving habits.”
In addition to following GDL laws while learning to drive, teens can reduce their risk by:
- Never driving under the influence
- Putting the cell phone away: Don’t drive distracted
- Limiting the number of friends in the car to 1-2 (or less)
- Never speeding
- Always buckling up
- Driving in the day more so than at night
Teens interested in sharing the message of safe driving can Join the Shift – participate in a contest designed for teens to share good driving tips and experiences and discourage their peers from engaging in dangerous driving behaviors. The contest awards $20,000 in cash and gift cards to teens and their schools for sharing the safe driving message.