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Teen at the Wheel

The Statistics are Alarming

It may be tempting for parents to allow their newly licensed teens to drive themselves to their friends' houses or pick up a few things at the grocery. After all, they are actually eager to do the chores parents have grumbled about for years. But before they sit back and leave the driving to their kids, parents need to be aware of some disturbing statistics regarding teen drivers.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, crashes are the leading cause of death among American teens, accounting for more than one-third of all deaths of 16- to 18-year-olds. This should be reason enough for parents to take their teens' driving very seriously and to insist that their teens do, too. And if beginning drivers complain about too many limits and too little freedom behind the wheel, parents can show them the following data from the IIHS:

  • Teen drivers have the highest crash risk of any age group.
  • Compared with crashes of older drivers, those of 16 year-olds more often involve driver error.
  • More of 16-year-olds' fatal crashes involve only the teen's vehicle.
  • Sixteen year-olds' fatal crashes are more likely to occur when other teenagers are in the car. The risk increases with every additional passenger.
  • Per mile driven, the nighttime fatal crash rate for 16-year-olds is about twice as high as during the day.
  • Teenagers generally are less likely than adults to use safety belts.

    Obviously teens need to drive to get experience, but that doesn't mean they should have unlimited access to the car or be allowed to ferry friends around day and night the minute they get their licenses. Parents can make this time as safe as possible by accompanying them on their excursions, insisting on seat belt use, and allowing brand new drivers to use the car only during the day at first. As teens get more practice hours under their belts, parents can gradually allow them more freedom. As the statistics show, it takes more than a license to be a good driver -- it also takes patience and practice, and good parenting.

    More on: Teen Driving

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