If you're the parent of a teenage driver, your biggest fear may be letting your kid drive alone. But according to AAA, there's a bigger danger: letting your kid drive with other teens.
In advance of Teen Driver Safety Week (October 14 - 21), AAA has released some startling statistics uncovered by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The Foundation analyzed data from the 9,578 fatal crashes involving teens that took place between 2005 and 2010. The study focused on accidents involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers, since those are the least experienced on the road.
Combined with data from previous studies, AAA paints a grim picture for teenage drivers. Among the biggest takeaways:
- When you look at crashes per mile driven, teenage motorists are involved in more accidents than drivers of any other age group. In fact, 16- and 17-year-old drivers are involved in seven times as many crashes as motorists in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.
- In fatal crashes between 2005 and 2010 involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers, speeding was often a factor -- especially when other teens were in the car. When the driver was alone, the chance of him or her speeding was 30%. That figure jumped to 44% with two teen passengers, and 48% when there were three or more teens onboard.
- Many of those fatal crashes involved teens driving late at night, between 11pm and 5am. The likelihood of a teen doing so rose from 17% when he or she was driving alone to 28% with three or more teens in the car.
- Teen drinking-and-driving is on the decline, but it's still a problem -- especially when teens travel in groups. The AAA Foundation found that of the 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in traffic fatalities between 2005 and 2010, 13% of those driving alone had been drinking. The number ticked up to 18% when there were three or more teens onboard.
And parents, don't think you're off the hook: although teen drivers clearly engage in riskier behavior when there are other teens in the car, you have a huge influence on their driving, too, even when you're not around. As we reported a couple of weeks ago, teens pick up most of their driving habits from watching their parents.
To address the problem of inexperienced teen drivers, AAA is pushing for graduated licencing programs in every state (even though some insist that such programs only postpone fatalities a few years). If you have a teenage driver of your own, AAA also recommends a visit to TeenDriving.AAA.com.
Parents, how have you addressed these issues with your kids? Share your tips in the comments below.