• Mar 3, 2009
Teenage drivers are dangerous, that's no revelation. AAA has analyzed the last decade of crash data by its AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and found that while deadly crashes are down overall, teenage drivers are still at least twice as lethal to other people as they are to themselves.
While measures such as graduated licensing and improved driver training have brought down fatalities, more could still be done. Passengers in cars driven by teens continue to fare the worst, while other drivers, pedestrians and other non-motorists are also victims. The statistics certainly make parents contemplate carting around their progeny indefinitely, as AAA says that 49 states could beef up their graduated licensing programs. Add to the discussion the dismal state of driver training and the level of distraction many drivers (not just teens) inflict upon themselves while piloting 3,000-pound projectiles, and you might also start seriously considering telecommuting. Check out the official press release from AAA after the jump.

[Source: AAA | Photo by djuggler | CC2.0]

Majority of People Killed in Teen Crashes are Passengers and Other Drivers - Not Teen Drivers

Analysis shows large reduction in deaths for all road users as deadly teen driver crashes dropped during last decade, says AAA

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The majority of people killed in teen driver crashes continue to be people other than teen drivers themselves, according to an updated analysis of 10 years of crash data by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The analysis shows that about one-third of people killed in crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 17 are teen drivers themselves. Nearly two-thirds are passengers, occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and other road users.

"For every teen driver killed in a crash, almost twice as many other people die, which underscores the link between teen driver safety and the safety of everyone on the road," said AAA President and CEO Robert L. Darbelnet.

Nationally, between 1998 and 2007, crashes involving 15-, 16- and 17-year-old drivers killed 28,138 people, of whom 10,388 (36.9) deaths included 8,829 passengers of the teen drivers, 6,858 occupants of other vehicles operated by adult drivers, and 2,063 non-motorists and others. A previous analysis in 2006 found that between 1995 and 2004, crashes involving 15-, 16- and 17-year-old drivers claimed the lives of 30,917 people, of whom 36.2 percent were teen drivers themselves and 63.6 percent were others.

"Young drivers face an array of potentially deadly challenges at the wheel," said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. "Parents and teens need to understand the serious responsibility of driving and the risks and consequences involved."

AAA points to the drop in both teen driver deaths and the larger drop in deaths of others during the last decade as evidence that improving teen driver safety benefits all road users.

"During the last decade, as states improved their teen licensing systems and AAA has helped parents get more involved, we have seen reductions in teen driver deaths and even larger reductions in the number of other people killed," said Darbelnet. "Clearly, measures put into place to save teen drivers help us all."

AAA continues to call for comprehensive graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems that let new teen drivers gain experience under less-risky conditions. States with comprehensive GDL systems have been shown to reduce deaths among 16-year-old drivers by 38 percent. Forty-nine state GDL systems fall short of AAA guidelines.

AAA also encourages parents to play the leading role in developing their teen driver through regular dialogue, selecting a quality driving school, using a parent-teen driving agreement, extensive practice driving, and choosing a safe vehicle for their teen.


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  • 34 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm 18, and I get to see the worst of it. I'm an alright driver (if that), but I'm not dangerous.

      Some of these kids, though, are just terrible. I saw some kid wreck a then-new GT500 right in front of our school because he was looking at his friend in the passenger seat. He ran into a guy making a left turn.

      Made me weep for the cars these rich kids crash.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And for full disclosure, I've gotten into plenty of stupid accidents that I could have prevented. Most of which occured during and shortly after college (had no accidents for years after getting my license).

        Part of the reason why insurance companies make such a big deal about being 25 is just because people's brains actually change around that age, and they have better control over their emotions, whether it's fear or excitement or happiness or whatever. Which helps people respond rationally when something crazy happens on the road.

        And also I think once you've turned 25 you've had enough horrible things happen to you and your friends/family that you finally realize that you can die anytime.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I never understood (and undoubtably ever will) why some parents buy their kids the "performance" oriented version of a given car. My high school was filled with GTs (let alone GT500s). I mean, I can't think of one reason one would get a high-po model other than, well, speed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No dude, you are dangerous. Probably not as dangerous as the biggest idiots out there, but EVERYONE is a dangerous driver until they've driven for a long, long, time.

        My friends get rather pissy when I tell them that they're not good drivers (they're younger than me but 23-24), but they're going around hitting deer on city streets (which is bad because kids run into those same streets all the time around here...so if you didn't notice a dear running around the city it's not a good sign), plowing into cars at red lights and driving into medians, etc. And these people have been driving for years and they're still dangerous. Most of them didn't actually get into accidents for years and years, but then one day they pay less attention than usual or whatever and that's that.

        I think if you really want to be a good driver, you gotta always remember that you're a dangerous driver. That every driver on the road is a dangerous driver. Cuz even the safest best driver can cause a lot of damage if they get distracted.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good point, I'll agree with you on that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't think it will ever improve. They could push the driver age to 21 and you would still see similiar statistics as you would now for new drivers. New drivers will always be new drivers, or just plain inexperienced.

      HOWEVER, I know people like the ACLU would have a field day on this idea, but they really need to institute an English proficiency test before you can pass the damn driving test in all states. Why? Its discriminatory you say? Well, I am an immigrant myself, but I can't stand it when someone slams on the brakes, or drives 5mph before every intersection just because they can't read what road they are on. All signs in the US are in English, and if you don't know how to read an important part of what driving needs, then you don't deserve a license.

      There needs to be a slalom course on the driving test as well... where you must complete the slalom at a minimum speed to demonstrate hand eye coordination skills. That would at least weed out the "scared-type" drivers from being on the road... you know, the ones that signal but take 2 minutes before they SLOWLY move onto the next lane (straddling 2 lanes for about a mile before finally completing the lane change).

      This would also weed out the senior citizens who are ticking time bombs from being on the road.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "There needs to be a slalom course on the driving test as well... where you must complete the slalom at a minimum speed to demonstrate hand eye coordination skills. That would at least weed out the "scared-type" drivers from being on the road... you know, the ones that signal but take 2 minutes before they SLOWLY move onto the next lane (straddling 2 lanes for about a mile before finally completing the lane change)."

        This also depends on your cars acceleration. Not that I take 2 min to lane change, but you would not believe how many people actually speed up when you put your signal on, I rather wait till they pass then having to rely on them breaking since they started to accelerate, that's an accident waiting to happen imo. All you need is one woops I hit the gas by accident then the brake.. blah blah, but of course some of the time I time torque converter lag, blah blah and get right in. That just depends on traffic.

        Rather play it safe then get into an accident. 1 car length or 2 is not worth being injured for.
        • 5 Years Ago
        One more note: I'm not as good a driver as my mom (my dad, on the other hand...). But that's not because of a lack of guidance, or a lack of training. It's a lack of experience.

        No matter how much you 'graduate' and coach a new driver, and no matter how careful or responsible they are, there comes a point where what the new driver needs is experience. And there's no way to build that without... driving. So a new driver will always be 'worse' than a good, seasoned driver. It's just a matter of reducing that difference as much as possible with training.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "They could push the driver age to 21 and you would still see similiar statistics as you would now for new drivers. New drivers will always be new drivers, or just plain inexperienced. "

        While I agree, people under 21 are (generally speaking) very immature and tend to make poor choices. Yes there are exceptions and I don't need to hear them, I'm just saying. And I'm not advocating bumping the driving age to 21, but a more graduated scale would be better than simply handing over the keys to to every 16 year old who applies for a license.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I believe in the graduated system--with the government and with the teens' parents. Here in BC, it takes a year after getting your learners' to get your "New Driver" license (which allows you to drive alone, but not with more than one passenger). I think the government's gone as far as they can with the GL program.

        However, the program should not end there. I know too many friends whose parents have just thrown them the keys when they got their licenses, and I have to say there is a tendency for those friends to take driving less seriously and drive more wrecklessly.

        My parents are the opposite extreme. After getting my N, I still didn't drive alone for at least a month--and then, only in good weather when it's light out and to places I'd been with my parents before. Then, they slowly weened me off--driving in the night in the dry, then driving in the rain, and now they're fairly comfortable with me getting around our region (and I am too!).

        While I admit to being a bit frustrated that my parents wouldn't let me go where I wanted to sometimes, I have to say their gradual approach has instilled a sense of responsibility in my driving, and I take it quite seriously now. It's easy to see the difference in my friends' driving habits, and there is a clear correlation between their parenting and their driving.

        Then, there are other 'friends' who are just idiots and really shouldn't get their licenses until 21. Or 35.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Most teens these days really need to learn how to drive properly.

      I never went to a real driving school. My dad was the one who taught me how to drive when I got my premit. He would only take me out under the worst conditions(raining, night time, snow, fog, etc.) in a nearby parking lot, and have me running circles and going down imaginary streets and parking next to imaginary cars. Meanwhile he was trying to distract me almost every second while doing this. A few weeks went by until he thought I was good enough for the public roads. I look back at that as a great thing. I can drive with as many distractions that can be thrown at me and still concentrate on the road at the same time.

      I guess the point is, teens who just get their liscenses and a car from mommy and daddy aren't responsible. Just because they have a hunk of plastic that says they can drive doesn't mean they can. Now that is not to say some teens can drive properly, as I know first hand some can(myself included. I'm 19 still technically a teen for a few more months.) It is just a large majority of teens think that driving a car is a time to party and socialze with friends. I have seen many of my friends text while driving. That is the LAST thing someone needs to be doing while driving, and is usually the last time I get in the car with them driving.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Isn't this really obvious? A driver has the opportunity to kill himself/herself only once in an accident, thus the probability of death of driver = A

      But if the driver has passengers or there are other road users, then we can say that the probability of the demise of one of those individuals = B

      B will always be greater than A

      Am I missing something here?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm 17 and I like to think of myself as a safe driver. I think it really depends on your driving habits. I give all of my focus to driving when I'm behind the wheel, but I know that many teens don't feel that way. It's a shame that most people see driving as more of a right than a privilege.
      • 5 Years Ago

      Has anybody seen last week's Top Gear (here in U.S., I mean)?

      Well, watch it.

      Briefly, in order to get a driver license in Finland, you must master power slide and execute it perfectly. They didn't go into specifics whether you must know it on both rear and front wheel drive or just the car you have on test, but still ...

      Let's face it, guys. As long as U.S. gives a driver license to anybody breathing at the moment as long as they don't swear, smoke or use drugs* - it will be a slaughterhouse out there.

      I traveled around quite a bit and lived in Europe for 30 years and I haven't seen drivers as incompetent as in U.S. For Pete's sake, you have TWICE traffic deaths as Finland (where whole country is like North Dakota) per capita and more than 50% more than Italy (where only Autostrada looks like any American road) per capita. Let's face it, American drivers badly need driver education.

      * This is a take on fabulous move review from NYT of "The Day After Tomorrow" movie where a reviewer put the line at the end of the article that read like this "Movie is rated PG-13 even if million of people die but nobody swears, smokes or uses drugs".
        • 5 Years Ago
        My wife is from the Czech republic, she says that unlike here, you don't have to drive to get around easily. I think that's part of the problem as well is that the public transport system is so bad that you are pretty much forced to have a car.

        I remember in high school I waited for a bus for 20 mins, then walked to the mall that was about 2.5 miles away, and the bus had just beat me there! This was in Miami.

        Maybe making the test harder and more expensive will weed out the unsafe drivers. That would also increase income so they can use the $$$ to improve the public transport.
      • 5 Years Ago
      +1 on the slalom course idea.

      Driver's ed should include some sort of performance driving instruction. A couple of laps on an autocross -style course, set up in a big empty parking lot.

      Students should get a choice of 2 vehicles - something like a Mustang GT, and a Camry.

      See how many pick the Mustang, and end up ground looping it in the first turn, while the Camry driver turns in a better lap. Everyone should then be required to turn laps in both cars, to see the fundamental difference in how cars drive and handle.

      Highschools could also benefit from having Autocross teams. a) make it a competition between schools, and b) you're teaching carhandling and skills that inexperienced drivers need.

      I can't mention the number of people that just don't know what to do when their cars push through a turn, or the rear end brekas loose unexpectedly. Proper reflexes have to be learned, and unfortunately, that mens you have to get a vehicle out of shape a lot, and then learn to make the right corrections.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now we just need a study on the 65 and older crowd but the AARP will kill that one for sure
      • 5 Years Ago
      I say we stick huge long nails onto steering wheels and see how far the deaths fall. See if anyone (teens or not) dare to use a phone and be totally careless and retarded while driving.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Okay, so their point is that in accidents with teen drivers, only one-third of the fatalities were the teen drivers themselves. But they don't compare that to non-teen drivers. Maybe one third of all accident deaths are one of the drivers involved. It doesn't say, so the "teen" part is irrelevant.

      But yeah, teen drivers do suck.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well here on long island teens have been killing themselves not others. Theres been a rash of teens speeding , loosing control and wrapping their cars around trees.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm 18.

      I've done 30,000 miles.

      No accidents on my part; none even close. I drive at the speed limit or under, don't do anything stupid, just drive calmly and carefully.

      However, somehow I did get rear-ended by an idiot doing 90mph on the interstate.

      Would you blame me just because I'm a teen? I hope not.

      As a matter of fact, I'd take that as a non-teen almost killing a teen--the opposite of AAA's report's conclusion.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Way to jinx yourself idiot.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Jinx myself?

        I think not.
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