Traffic Accidents and Young Drivers: Five Contributing Factors

Teenagers and cars can be risky business, even under the best of circumstances.  But it’s perhaps the worst of circumstances, i.e., when alcohol is involved, that highway safety for all concerned could be most compromised. The  inexperience of teenagers with the effects of alcohol, their fearless and/or reckless attitude towards real danger, and their skills (or lack thereof) with the operation of the vehicle  in general becomes  a potent combination for real trouble on Indiana roads and throughout the country.

According a study by the National Cooperative Highway Research group, young drivers continue to die on the roads at higher rates than any other age group. The good news is that young driver fatalities decreased 36 percent in our state in 2009. About 48,000 young drivers were involved road accident collisions in Indiana in 2009.

The study identifies five contributing factors for teens and car wrecks:

  • Among 16 year olds, the risk of  a fatal crash is about three times higher after 9 p.m. than during the day
  • Alcohol-related crashes increase from low rates among those age 16 to a peak for drivers in the 20-to-24 age group
  • Drivers 18 and older are more likely to not live at home, resulting in more time spent behind the wheel and with fewer “protective constraints” on their activities
  • While 15-to-20 year old cohort represent about 8 percent of the U.S. population and about 6 percent of licensed drivers, they account for about 14 percent of the drivers involved in a fatal accident
  • Younger drivers (especially ages 16 and 17) are responsible for a larger number of passenger injures and fatalities per crash than more experienced drivers; more than 50% of all fatalities occur when there is no adult in the vehicle.

The Indiana State Police advise parents of younger drivers to always find out where their children are going, who their passengers are, and when they will return home. The ISP adds that young drivers should carry full charged cell phones for emergencies (but don’t use them while driving) and make sure to use their seatbelts.

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