Washington, D.C. (June 22, 2006) – Fatality and injury crash rates for 16-year-old drivers were 20 percent lower in a state with nighttime and passenger restrictions than in a comparison jurisdiction that lacked these building blocks of safer teen driving, according to a study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. In addition, the study also showed that twice as many crash-free teens reported never having violated their state�s passenger restriction provision compared to teens that had crashed.
The significant differences between crash-free and crash-involved teen drivers were: overall compliance with provisions found in state graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, adherence to traffic laws and regulations, and parental involvement.
�Teens who obey traffic rules and regulations, follow GDL regulations, and have actively involved parents are much less likely to crash,� said J. Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. �Just think how many lives could be saved with the combination of the right laws and parental involvement.�
The study found that compliance with passenger restrictions was especially problematic, and teens involved in crashes reported more frequent violations when compared to crash-free teens. For example, 30 percent of crash-free teens, but only 16 percent of crash-involved teens, reported never violating their jurisdiction�s passenger restriction during their first six months of the intermediate stage of GDL. Nearly half of crash-involved teens reported violating the passenger restriction �more than a few times.�
Teens who had crashed were found to be more likely to violate traffic laws, relative to crash-free teens. For example, in Oregon 33 percent of crash-involved teens reported having received a ticket, as compared to only 13 percent of crash-free teens. Also, teens who had not been involved in crashes reported higher levels of parental monitoring, relative to their counterparts who had been involved in crashes.
�The summer months can be particularly deadly for teen drivers,� said Susan Pikrallidas, vice president, AAA Public Affairs. �Our analysis of crash data shows that July and August are the deadliest months of the year for 16- and 17-year-old drivers. Summer vacation for teens often means unstructured schedules, less guidance from mom and dad, and more exposure to crashes. Enforcing safe driving rules that include passenger and nighttime limits is essential to keeping your teen and others safe on the road.�
Crash deaths for 16- and 17-year-old drivers average nearly 20 percent higher in July and August, relative to the average monthly toll, according to a AAA Foundation analysis of federal crash data. From 1995 through 2004, an average of 104 16- and 17-year-old drivers died during July and August, compared to an average monthly death toll of 87 young drivers over the 10-year period.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, and government data show that 16-year-olds are involved in more than five times as many fatal crashes per mile driven as are adults in their 30s, 40s, or 50s.
According to the Foundation, nearly half of 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes are carrying at least one passenger under age 21 and no adult passengers. Over one third of deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., despite the fact that there are fewer teens on the road during those hours.
To assist parents in guiding their new drivers, AAA clubs nationwide will be working with their Departments of Motor Vehicles to make crucial information about teen driver safety more readily accessible for parents and teens on the state DMV Web site. AAA has developed model language specifically designed for state DMV Web sites to help parents understand the teen crash problem and their role in turning their teens into safe adult drivers. This model language can be found at www.aaa.com/publicaffairs. AAA produced the Web content after a survey of state DMV sites revealed that many fall short on basic content helpful for parents in developing their young drivers.
The AAA Foundation offers an interactive and engaging DVD for teens called Driver-ZED�, which puts users through 100 driving scenarios allowing them to experience conditions it could take several years to encounter on the road. Also included is supplemental information to aid parents in the process. Visit www.driverzed.org to learn more or contact your local AAA club.
For the AAA Foundation study, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation compared crash rates and crash patterns of teenage drivers in one jurisdiction with nighttime and passenger restrictions during the intermediate stage of GDL to those in another jurisdiction whose GDL program did not include such restrictions. TIRF also surveyed a random sample of 500 crash-free and 500 crash-involved, newly licensed teens and their parents in each of two jurisdictions to compare their experiences and characteristics.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is an independent, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization established in 1947 by AAA. The AAA Foundation�s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce the impact when they do occur. �Reducing the Crash Risk for Young Drivers� along with all AAA Foundation reports are available online at www.aaafoundation.org.
As North America�s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 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 of all travelers.