According to the Center for Injury Research & Prevention at The Childrens’ Hospital of Philadelphia, young drivers between the ages 16-20 years are at a high risk for both fatal and non-fatal crashes, with the highest per capita and per-mile-driven crash rate of any age group. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths, accounting for 44% of teen fatalities in the U.S. If these crash fatalities continue without intervention, 100,000 adolescents and young adults will die in young driver crashes (drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 years) in the U.S. over the next 10 years.
Recent crash data from a new AAA Mid-Atlantic report says that licensed, underaged drivers, ages 16-17, are just as likely to get into fatal crashes from Monday through Friday between 3 and 5 p.m. as they are between 9 p.m. 2 a.m on weekend nights. Data shows that between 2002 and 2005:
- 1,100 teen drivers were killed during the hours right after school.
- 1,237 were killed during the weekends.
AAA Mid-Atlantic is urging parents to be just as vigilant when monitoring their teen drivers after school as they are on the weekends. Pennsylvania and 43 other states have already imposed driving limits for licensed teen drivers who are forbidden to drive between 12 and 5 A.M. unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian or driving for work-related reasons.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, graduated drivers license (GDL) programs are helping to reduce teen driving deaths. States began enacting GDL laws in the 1990s. The graduated license program is a three-stage license phase-in process that allows young drivers to gain experience before receiving a full-privilege license. Latest data from NHTSA show that the fatality rate for 16 to 20 year old vehicle occupants in motor vehicle crashes per 100,000 population was 27.07 in 2004, down from 27.67 in 2003 and 30.46 in 1994. The 2004 rate was the lowest since record keeping began in 1975.
Pennsylvania has adopted the GLD program. The intention of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s licensing process is to make every teenager understand that driving is a responsibility. One of the best teachers of this is experience, which PennDOT’s graduated licensing system provides.
GDL involves a series of graduated steps new drivers must take to become fully licensed-beginning with the learner’s permit. They practice driving with supervision, take the road test, get a junior license, take a driver’s training course, and finally get their full license.
There are also things parents can do to help eliminate some distractions their teens may have.
No cell phones in the car
No other teens in the car during the first 3 months of driving
No more than one teen passenger for the first year of driving
Rosen Louik & Perry is a personal injury law firm representing clients throughout the State of Pennsylvania. If you or someone you know has been injured in a vehicle-related accident, our experienced attorneys will discuss your situation and go over the options available to you. We also work with the insurance companies and other parties involved in your case to make sure that all your needs are handled quickly and appropriately. Contact Rosen Louik & Perry for your free consultation.
AAA Mid-Atlantic Pennsylvania DMV
National Highway Safety & Traffic Administration
Center for Injury Research & Prevention