Throughout Louisiana, students are returning to school after summer break, and many of them are driving for the first time. As parents undoubtedly know, it may take a number of years before a young driver exercises due caution on the road. Studies have repeatedly shown that young drivers -- in particular, those aged 15 to 20 -- tend to be more reckless than older drivers, though there are certainly plenty of older drivers who fail to protect themselves and others from injury.
Parents, teachers and others concerned about young driver safety should make it clear to students that immense responsibilities and risks come with getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. With that in mind, let's consider some statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The NHTSA reported that, while only 6 percent of licensed U.S. drivers in 2007 were aged 15 to 20, 19 percent of the nation's auto accident fatalities that year involved drivers from that age group. Roughly two-thirds of those killed in young-driver accidents were the young drivers themselves or their passengers.
Not wearing a seat belt, impaired driving and speeding were all found to be serious factors in fatal accidents involving young people. According to the 2007 data, a shocking 61 percent of the young passengers killed in auto accidents were not wearing seat belts. More data from that year:
- 26 percent of drivers aged 15 to 20 who were killed in auto accidents had a blood-alcohol concentration that was higher than the legal limit (.08 percent) for adults.
- 39 percent of male drivers aged 15 to 20 who were involved in fatal accidents were breaking the speed limit when the collision happened.
Teenagers may not always behave as if they are heeding the advice of their parents and teachers, but studies have shown that adults have an enormous influence on young people, even if that doesn't seem to be the case. Having a serious discussion with young people about road safety may help save their lives and the lives of others.
Source: NHTSA.gov, "Fatal Crashes Involving Young Drivers," Accessed Sept. 2, 2014