Citing new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research about teens and distracted driving, the California Department of Insurance, LAPD and the Automobile Club of Southern California today warned that new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash.
This sobering finding comes as the “100 Deadliest Days” begin, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year. Over the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during this deadly period.
“Statistics show that our youngest drivers are at the highest risk as teen crashes spike during the summer months because teens are out of school and on the road,” said Christopher Baggaley, Auto Club senior vice president of insurance. “The Foundation’s research found that inexperience paired with greater exposure on the road could create a deadly combination for teen drivers in the next 100 days.”
"There is no denying distracted driving of any kind is dangerous,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Statistics show teens are more likely to be involved in a crash causing significant injuries. Here in the southland, it only takes a crash with injuries to cause your insurance rates to nearly double.”
In Los Angeles County during 2015, 13 teen drivers ages 16-17 years old were at fault in fatal crashes and another 800 were at fault in injury crashes, according to 2015 crash data from the CHP.
Fatal teen crashes are on the rise
The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2015 crash data, the latest data available. To reverse this alarming trend, AAA urges parents to help reduce the number of deadly crashes on the road by getting more involved and talking to their teens about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel.
“Parents are the front line of defense for keeping our roads safer this summer,” added Baggaley. “It all starts with educating teens about safety on the road and modeling good behavior, like staying off the phone and buckling your safety belt.”
Three factors that commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers are:
- Distraction: Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smart phone.
- Not Buckling Up: In 2015, the latest data available, 60 percent of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash.
- Speeding: Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. A recent AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s latest study, Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age, analyzes crash rates per mile driven for all drivers and found that for every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 years old are:
- 3.9 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash
- 2.6 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash
- 4.5 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a crash
- 3.2 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a fatal crash
A prior AAA Foundation study found that teen drivers manipulating their cell phone (includes calling, texting or other uses), had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash. The researchers also measured reaction times in rear-end crashes and found that teen drivers using a cell phone failed to react more than half of the time before the impact, meaning they crashed without braking or steering.
To keep roads safer this summer, the Auto Club, California Department of Insurance and LAPD encourage parents to:
- Have conversations with their teens early and often about distraction and speeding.
- Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving.
- Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
- Look into pre-driving classes such as the AAA Dare to Prepare classes for parents and teens.
Parents and teens can learn more about teen driver issues and California teen driver permit and licensing requirements by visiting www.AAA.com/teens.