Stats About Fatal Teen Car Crashes
majority of people killed in teen driver crashes are
people other than the teen driver themselves, according
to a recent analysis of 10 years of crash data by the
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The new analysis shows that young novice drivers comprise
slightly more than 33 percent of all the fatalities in
crashes in which they are involved; whereas nearly 66 percent
of those killed are other vehicle users and pedestrians.
AAA says these statistics provide new urgency to its
advocacy efforts to strengthen graduated licensing laws
"It's clear from this analysis that we have to
approach the issue of teen driver safety in a different
way," said Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA President.
"We need to focus on the effects teen driver crashes
have on others in addition to the teen drivers themselves."
This analysis shows that between 1995 and 2004 crashes
involving 15-, 16- and 17-year-old drivers claimed the
lives of 30,917 people nationwide, of which 11,177 (36.2 percent)
were the teen drivers themselves. The remaining 19,740
(63.6 percent) included 9,847 passengers of the 15-17-year-old
drivers, 7,477 occupants of other vehicles operated
by drivers at least 18 years of age, 2,323 non-motorists
and 93 others/unknowns.
"The tragedy of teen driver crashes goes well beyond
the teen driver and their teen passengers," said
Darbelnet. "These crashes also kill pedestrians
and people in other vehicles — that's somebody's mother,
child, brother, or grandmother."
The analysis also shows that while 12,413 of these fatalities
occurred in single vehicle crashes involving only the
vehicle operated by the teenage driver, the remaining
18,504 deaths occurred in crashes involving multiple-vehicles
and/or non-motorists. Of these, more than half of the
fatalities were either occupants of vehicles driven
by adult drivers (7,477, 40.4 percent) or non-motorists (2,323,
12.6 percent). In addition, nearly four out of five of these
drivers of other vehicles, their passengers, and non-motorist
deaths were 21 years of age or older.
"We view this report as a wake-up call for everyone
who uses our roadways to get involved by contacting
their state legislators, urging them to strengthen their
state GDL law," said Darbelnet.
While AAA says comprehensive GDL laws are the best way
to increase safety for all road users, the organization
also says parents play a critically important role in
enforcing passenger restrictions.
"Regardless of what the state law says, parents
should not allow their teens to ride with other teen
drivers, nor should they be allowed to transport other
teens in the first year of driving," said Darbelnet.
"It's tempting to be lured by the convenience of
having other options for getting kids to and from school
and other activities, but the risks are just too great."
Recognizing that parents may feel awkward about enforcing
rules other parents are not enforcing, AAA unveiled
a new parent discussion guide to help parents work as
a team to ensure teens gain driving experience in the
safest driving environment possible during that first
"Parents who understand the risks recognize that
it is important to keep teens from riding with other
teens, even if it means playing 'chauffer' for a year
or more," said Darbelnet.
With car crashes being the leading cause of death for
teenagers, AAA set an ambitious goal in 1997 to pass
GDL laws in all 50 states. The goal was achieved when
both Wyoming and Montana enacted laws in 2005. These
legislative efforts have helped save lives by requiring
teens to get more supervised behind-the-wheel driving
experience and phased-in driving privileges restricted
to low-risk times and situations, until a full license
is granted. However, not all GDL laws are comprehensive.
AAA Clubs are now focused on strengthening the state
GDL laws by adding or improving passenger and nighttime
restrictions, and fine tuning other components to make
the laws more comprehensive.The teen driver crash data
analysis was conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic
Safety. The Foundation analyzed data from the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis
Reporting System (FARS) from 1995 through 2004, examining
fatal crashes involving 15-, 16-, and 17-year-old drivers
of passenger vehicles.
As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel
organization, AAA provides nearly 49 million members
with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related
services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit,
fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate
for the safety and security for all travelers.