Now that you know what the #1 Leading Cause of Death Among Teens is, we are going to tell you why.
But before we do, we’d like to point out that teen drivers are involved in accidents that are not their fault. Just like any other driver, teen drivers can be involved in car accidents caused by other drivers, defective highways, improperly maintained roads and shoulders of roads, and hazardous conditions that cause wrecks, such as absence of a guardrail or other barrier that provides protection at a dangerous location along a highway.
So now we would like to focus on behaviors of teen drivers that do cause fatal car accidents.
Studies have indicated that there are six risky driving behaviors that contribute to teen driving fatalities. In a survey of 753 teens done by General Motors, here is how those teens identified their risky driving behaviors.
The risky behavior admitted by most of the surveyed teens (94%) was nighttime driving. Nighttime driving is considered risky because the fact that teens aged 16 to 19 are three times more likely than adults ages 30 to 59 to crash when driving at night. Males are almost twice as likely to crash at night as females. Teens with a family rule of no driving in the dark were less likely to do so than those without a rule.
The second most common behavior was driving with passengers in their car. Approximately 89% of those surveyed have had at least one more teen passenger in the vehicle while they are driving. Studies show that if teens are driving alone they are less likely to get into a crash. The more passengers they have in the car with them, the higher the chances of a fatal car crash due to distraction and possibly peer pressure.
Another common behavior amongst teens that is considered risky is excessive speed. Out of the kids surveyed, 85% admitted to this behavior. Speeding can increase the likelihood and severity of a crash. In 2011, speed was involved in approximately one-third of all teen crashes. In the same study, 54% of respondents admitted to speeding 10 miles per hour over the limit. Statistics show that teens whose parents model safe behavior were less likely to speed.
The use of electronic devices while driving is an obvious risky behavior, yet 44% of those surveyed said they do it. Answering a text, talking on the phone or looking for directions are all examples of these. Changing the radio station is also included in that percentage. Research shows that just a single glance off the road for two seconds can increase the likelihood of a teen crashing by nearly four times. Sending or reading a text message takes the driver an average of five seconds looking off the road.
Four out of every 10 teen drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2014 were not wearing a seatbelt. When used correctly, seat belts reduce the risk of death for front seat passengers by 45 percent. Although most of the respondents stated that they wear seat belts most of the time, there was still 17% admitted to not wearing their seat belt every time.
The final risky driving behavior that is avoidable is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When a person’s normal capacity to act is inhibited by alcohol or drugs, there is obviously a higher probability of a motor vehicle crash. Not only does it affect judgement and driver behavior but it increases the likelihood of other risky behaviors such as not wearing a seat belt. In 2014, 17% of the teen drivers who were killed in a motor vehicle crash had alcohol in their bloodstream when they were tested.
There are cases of teens killed in motor vehicle crashes in which weren’t their fault. In other cases, studies show that the leading causes of crashes among teen drivers are inexperience, driving with other passengers, nighttime driving, not wearing seat belts, distracted driving, drowsy driving, reckless driving and impaired driving. Making family rules to avoid these risky driving behaviors can help reduce the chances of a teen getting into a vehicle and a making a fatal mistake.