Teenagers and Automobiles

Would you believe the entire death toll of the Vietnam War was less than teenage vehicle fatalities in the last decade? Would you believe teenage fatalities are equal to one Columbine High School massacre every day? “Crashes are the leading killer of teens 15 to 19, responsible for 1 in 3 deaths. While death rates for drivers of all ages declined 20% from 1975-96, and even dropped for 17-19 year-olds, the rate nearly doubled for 16-year-olds, now the riskiest drivers on the road.” Traditional driver education courses (30 hours of classroom activities and 6 hours of behind the wheel experience) have not worked well in developing great beginning drivers! The report cited statistics suggesting that 16-year-olds are ill-prepared for the responsibility of driving: 

  • They speed and run off the road most. 
  • They are cited for more mistakes than anyone except drivers over 82. 
  • They carry the most passengers (80% are other teens) who wear seat belts less often than older drivers and passengers. 
  • They crash far more at night and hit trees and telephone poles in particular much more often. 
  • Though new drivers, one in seven of them had a previous accident or ticket. 
  • Their crash rate was five times higher than drivers over 25. 
  • “They have the highest crash risk of any age,” says Alan Williams of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a top researcher examining the relationship between age and when licensed to drive.


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