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By the Numbers: Teen Drivers and Their Passengers Run a Greater Risk of a Fatal Crash

Recently, two juvenile passengers were injured when a 19-year-old driver, who was doing donuts in a cornfield in Upper Allen Township, fled police at a high rate of speed and struck a telephone pole. A crash like this is every parent’s worst nightmare. It is frightening to think that your child could be injured or even killed due to another teen’s horseplay, careless driving, or inexperience behind the wheel.

The Troubling Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. And while most teen motor vehicle accidents are preventable, the statistics related to fatal teen crashes, published by the Institute of Highway Safety, are quite troubling:

  • Fatal teen accidents are more likely to occur when a teen driver has teen passengers in the vehicle—and the risk increases with each passenger.
  • More than half of teen passenger deaths occur in crashes where another teen was behind the wheel.
  • Excessive speed is a factor in nearly one-third of all teen crashes.
  • Most teens who are fatally injured in a crash are not wearing a seat belt.
  • Teens between the ages of 16 and 19 are 4 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash at night than they are during the day.
  • Many teen crashes are single-vehicle accidents that occur when the teen is driving at an excessive speed and loses control of his vehicle.
  • Inexperienced 16-year-old drivers have an especially high rate of fatal car accidents.
  • Approximately 1 in 5 teen drivers who are fatally injured in a crash have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more.

What You Can Do

As a parent, you can help keep your teen safe by setting appropriate ground rules to ensure your child uses good judgment and behaves safely behind the wheel. In addition, you should talk to your teen about how to be a safe passenger and how to decide whether it is safe to drive with another teen.

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