- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among American teenagers, killing between 5,000 and 6,000 teenagers every year.
- No other kind of hazard comes close to claiming as many teenage lives, including homicides (13 percent) and suicides (11 percent). (2002 figures)
A Teenager’s Odds
- Teenage drivers account for 12.6 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes.
- The fatal crash rates among 16- to 19-year-olds is four times that of older drivers.
- Risk is the highest at age 16, when the fatal crash rate is 40 percent higher than for 18 year-olds and 30 percent higher than for 19-year-olds.
- Cell Phones
- 56 percent of teens said they make and answer phone calls while driving.
- Talking on a cell phone can double the likelihood of an accident and can slow a young driver’s reaction time to that of a 70-year-old.
- 13 percent of teens said they send and respond to text messages while driving.
- 17 percent of teens said speeding is fun.
- 55 percent of teens said they exceed the speed limit by more than 10 mph.
- 26 percent of self-identified “aggressive” teen drivers reported speeding by more than 20 mph over the limit.
- 69 percent of teens who speed said they do so because they want to keep up with traffic.
- Peer Pressure
- 44 percent of teens said they drive more safely without friends in the car.
- 67 percent of teens said they have felt unsafe when someone else was driving.
- Only 45 percent said they would definitely speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them.
- 37 percent said they would ride with one or more friends who speed in the coming year.
- Seat Belts
- Wearing lap/shoulder belts can reduce the risk of dying in a crash by 45 percent.
- Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use.
- More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
- Almost 60 percent of teens’ night time auto deaths occur before midnight.
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