Young Teen Drivers Three Times More Likely To Die In Car Crash

Just yesterday, we did a story about AAA raising insurance rates for Tesla owners based on their claims history. Today, new statistics from AAA show that teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than older drivers, including older teens.

AAA teen drivers survey

That’s according to a report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety issued in advance of what it calls the “100 Deadliest Days” of the year. That’s the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the average number of deadly teen driver crashes increases by 15% compared to the rest of the year.

“Statistics show that teen crashes spike during the summer months because teens are out of school and on the road,” said Dr. David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety executive director. “The Foundation’s research found that inexperience paired with greater exposure on the road could create a deadly combination for teen drivers.”

After analyzing data collected over a period of years, the Foundation reported that, compared to all drivers 18 years of aga and older, drivers 16 to 17 are 3.9 times more likely to be involved in a crash and 2.6 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. When compared to drivers 30 to 59 years old, they are 4.5 times more likely to be involved in a crash and 3.2 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash

“Parents are the front line of defense for keeping our roads safer this summer,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA Director of State Relations. “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.”

The data suggests the three most common causes of fatal crashes involving young teenage drivers are:

  • Distraction — talking to a passenger or using a smart phone while driving is involved in 60% of deadly crashes.
  • Failure To Use Seat Belts — 60% of young drivers killed in car crashes were not using their seat belt.
  • Speeding — Excessive speed is involved in the fatal crashes.

AAA encourages parents to get involved in protecting young drivers from their own bad judgment by modeling good behavior and setting rules for how young drivers are expected to behave while behind the wheel.  That’s good advice, but about as effective as telling teens not to drink alcohol or engage in sexual experimentation, two things that are high on the list of things to do for most teens.

What the AAA survey does not take into account is the impact that digital technology can have on modern vehicles. Parents now have the ability to draw a digital fence around the area where their teenage children are allowed to go and set limits to how fast they can drive when behind the wheel. New driver assist systems like lane departure warnings and emergency braking systems can also act as digital nannies for teens who are just learning how to drive.

When Elon Musk talks about how programs like Tesla’s Autopilot can lower the number of car crashes, he means that digital assistants don’t get distracted, don’t experiment with drugs or alcohol, don’t get tired, don’t participate in road rage, and never lose focus on what they are doing.

Some people complain that Tesla uses the general public as guinea pigs in a giant beta experiment in which real world experience teaches Autopilot how to behave correctly. There is some merit to that argument, but isn’t letting young teen drivers with little to no experience drive on public roads pretty much the same thing?

Machines learn faster than teenagers, who often exhibit no observable ability to learn at all. They eliminate the irrationality associated with all human endeavor and compensate for the part of all vehicles proven most likely to fail — the nut behind the wheel.

Source and photo credit: AAA Newsroom

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.