By on March 4, 2008

soteendrivers_1023.jpgAccording to MSNBC, this not-surprising stat comes from a six-year study investigating the deaths of 10k child passengers. Do the math, and it gets even scarier; car crashes are now the leading cause of death for teens. The specifics are depressingly predictable. "More than three-quarters of the fatal crashes occurred on roads with speed limits higher than 45 mph, and nearly two-thirds of the young passengers were not wearing seat belts." Who doesn't wear seat belts? Sure, every blue moon you run into someone that claims they survived a crash because they weren't wearing a seatbelt. But then the conversation quickly changes to tin foil hats and anal probing at the hands of alien abductors. Personally, I disagree with one of the study's recommendations– raising the minimum age for a learner's permit to 16-years-old. My dad taught me to drive when I was 12, and I feel I'd be an even safer driver if I had learned earlier. Anyhow, assuming that raising the driver's permit age will stem fatal teen-driver accidents, what about the other 4600 children killed with adults behind the wheel?

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14 Comments on “54% of Kids Killed in Cars Had Teen Drivers...”

  • avatar

    Good article.
    That’s why one shouldn’t get into a road rage contest with a teen on the road. He/she is biologically incapable of backing down, too many hormones. Just let them pass, not worth it.

  • avatar

    I always thought 16 was the minimum age to get a driver’s license. It is in Ontario, Quebec, and I think pretty near everywhere else in Canada (but now that I think of it, it might be 15 in Alberta.) In any case, is the age to start driving under 16 in most states?

  • avatar

    In most European countries, the minimum age for a full driver’s license is 18. But starting 16, after a comprehensive teaching program, you can get behind the wheel next to certified adults aged 25+ (generally your parents).
    It really helped me a lot, and statistics have shown that this is a much safer way to launch new drivers on the road.

    Not to mention that 50% of french students fail their driver’s license test, even after 20 hours of theoretical and another 20 of practical training (rate drops to 15% for people who used the aforementioned program).

    As for the US? Well, disaffection with the car coupled with ever increasing distractions are 2 sources of the problem.

  • avatar
  • avatar

    This article doesn’t surprise me. Today I’m 41 and was able to get my Learners Permit at 15 and Drivers License at 16 in GA.

    During my teens and early 20s in the 1980s and early 90s, other traffic was just in my way. Like the arcade game Atari Pole Position, I would always feel compelled to pass others, speed, do stupid shit, and play one up-man-ship over trivial matters. Too much testosterone – just young, dumb, and full of c–.

    The drivers that really got on my nerves were the “old” drivers – you know the ones that were living, working, paying taxes, and changing my diapers when I was born.

    And while my eyesight, reaction time, and reflexes may have slowed somewhat, my judgement and maturity level have certainly developed. Thank God I never killed anyone!

  • avatar

    So many lives wasted – such a tragedy.
    I think that drivers under 18 shouldn’t be allowed to drive teenage passengers until they have had a minimum of 12 months driving – without incident. Being stopped for speeding or any other transgression should start the 12 month period again.
    Teenage drivers should not be allowed to drive high performance cars; in fact I think that drivers of any age should pass a high performance driving test before being allowed to drive high performance cars.
    I might sound draconian but society must do something to help people who cannot help themselves, from themselves – teenage drivers.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Personally, I disagree with one of the study’s recommendations– raising the minimum age for a learner’s permit to 16-years-old.

    Agreed. My wife and I are in the process of teaching our 15-year old how to drive. I was surprised to learn that insurance premiums don’t go up when a kid gets his learner’s permit. They go up when the young adults become licensed to drive by themselves (quite substantially – we pay $102 per month to cover two vehicles for my wife and it; it’ll go up to $245 once the cadet gets licensed).

    Since insurance companies aren’t charities, this tells me that young folks with leaner’s permits aren’t the problem here.

  • avatar

    Not to defend bad teen driving, but this little nugget in the original MSNBC article about teen fatalities — “More than half — 54 percent — were riding with a teen driver” — shows what happens when journalists blatantly abuse statistics for the sake of a headline.

    Here, it’s a matter of ignoring context. I would expect teen passengers who die in car wrecks to be in cars driven by teen drivers because teens often spend their passenger time riding with their peers. (It’s not as if I was loitering with very many fiftysomethings when I was a teenager.) This is a natural function of demographics, more than anything else.

    I don’t have the data, but it’s a fair guess that virtually every baby and toddler killed in a car accident is in a vehicle driven by their parents or a family member. Applying the implied logic of the MSNBC article, our horrified response should be to outlaw parents and relatives from driving with their young charges in the car.

    That being said, a lot of teen drivers are too hopped up on hormones and adrenaline to be put behind the wheel. I don’t understand why most of them are driving at all.

  • avatar

    Yeah, as someone who works in a research design/data analysis position, data can easily be manipulated.

    I would guess that teens drive with other teens about 75% of the time, therefore, the stats may be saying that teen drivers are safer (with 75% of time behind wheel and only 54% of fatal accidents)

    But I do see a lot of bad young drivers.

  • avatar

    The solution is not to raise the age, but to raise the standards. I didn’t get a driver’s license until I was in college (no car, no need for a license). I still did some really stupid things. It had more to do with my inexperience than my age. Better training and tougher standards will result in better young drivers. And, lets not leave the parents out of this. Parent’s are (or should be) the best judges of their tennagers driving ability and maturity and should exercise their parental responsibility to keep their kids safe.

  • avatar

    Kids killed in school bus accidents were being driven by school bus drivers on the way to or from school or a school function. Therefore, I suggest we ban kids from riding in school buses driven by school bus drivers on the way to or from school or a school function.

    I realize that kids can be idiots behind the wheel; that is the way it’s always been and it will never change for some of them. However, better training would help as would teaching kids today some personal responsibility. It’s too easy to get a license and they do not have to deal with the consequences of their actions; it’s “someone else’s fault”.

  • avatar

    I see one problem here.It’s a fact that a seatbelt will save your life. My son who is a Police officer was involved in a serious collision last year. This was a case where not wearing a seatbelt saved his life but it was by chance that he didn’t have it buckled and it is a rarity. He’ll be the first to encourage the use of a seatbelt. I also don’t think that raising the minimum age is going to accomplish very much.The problem is this; kids are kids and unfortunately in many cases parents are NOT parents. We can’t expect more from the kids until parents step up to the plate. Because a kid has attained a certain age doesn’t mean that he is mature enough to handle the responsibility of driving.That’s for the parents to decide and if a teen is caught speeding their parents shouldn’t be waiting for a court case to come up to determine the out come-take the keys and the license and lock them both away for a year.There is no reason for a teen to be driving a high performance car. As President of a Corvette club I can tell you that most are not ready. Again, this goes back to the parents. When I was 19 I put a deposit on a used Corvette and when my father found out he made me get the money back-end of story because he was worried that I would kill myself. He made the right call!

  • avatar

    I think most of the kids involved in causing these accident have a death wish. Their feelings are often a result of poor parenting, or a reaction to the horrific world they’ve been brought into.


  • avatar

    U cannot blame teenagers nowadays. They have hot blood nowadays. Maybe the young should consider reading this before getting themselves killed

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