The report looked at 16 different metrics and ranked each state by how they scored in three categories: safety conditions, economic environment and driving laws. When the data from all 50 states was complied, New York came out ahead of almost every other state in each category. It ranked number one in the country for driving laws and second in safety.
The state also had the third lowest population of teen drivers, which greatly figured into its safety ranking. Studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have found that immaturity and inexperience are primary factors contributing to deadly crashes with young drivers. Thus, less teens on the road means less dangerous drivers. Hawaii actually beat New York to take the number one spot in the safety category, as Hawaii had not only a low percentage of the teen population with drivers licenses, but also low rates of teens committing DUI offenses.
The lowest ranked state was South Dakota, which ranked 48th in safety and dead last in driving laws, though South Dakota was number one in one category: economic environment. The most dangerous state for teen drivers was also the cheapest state to have a car insured and damages repaired.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for this age group. The summer months are the most dangerous time of year for teen drivers. Last year, the monthly average for teen deaths on roadways was 235, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but in June deaths spiked to 276. July saw a death toll of 290. All told, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day account for 27 percent of fatal car crashes for teens.
What are the best ways to keep teens safe this summer?
Be active parents
Last year AAA released a study of its own looking at parental involvement after their kids had received their drivers license. Nearly half of parents reported they wanted their teens to get "a lot of practice," yet only one in four mentioned practicing in a variety of conditions, such as bad weather, heavy traffic or on unfamiliar roads. Much of the driving practice that teens received occurred during routine trips, the study said.
Teens do not receive enough training in settings such as darkness, bad weather, entering and exiting highways and driving on rural roads.
Getting a drivers license isn't the right of passage it once was. Less and less teens are getting drivers licenses these days. A study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute showed that fewer than 30 percent of 16-year-olds and only about 45 percent of 17-year-olds had a drivers license in 2010. And the longer kids wait, the better. Teen drivers are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash, according to the Centers For Disease Control.
Track your kids
It seems creepy, but there are a lot of options for keeping an eye on your kids when you're not in the car. Insurance companies often provide devices that plug into a car's computer system and can record basic data about driving habits, such as speed and sudden stops. There are also apps, such as DriveSafe Mode, which allow parents to block text messages and calls from reaching teens phones while the car is in motion.