Keeping Teen Drivers Safe
< Oct. 27, 2010 > -- Graduated driver license programs save lives, the CDC says, and that’s one reason the agency has launched a new campaign aimed at parents of teens old enough to drive.
The campaign, Parents Are the Key, emphasizes the important role parents can play in keeping teen drivers safe.
Thanks in part to graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs, the number of fatal crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers fell by nearly 40 percent from 2004 to 2008. Those figures were in a CDC study released last week in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Since 1996, the rates of fatal crash involvement for 16- and 17-year-old drivers have fallen by more than 50 percent.
"These trends show both how much progress we have made -- and how much more we can make -- to reduce motor vehicle crashes, which remain the number one cause of death for teens in the United States," says CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden.
Closer look at data
The CDC looked at 2004-08 national and state data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The agency found that of the 16- and 17-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes during those years, 65 percent were male and 35 percent were female.
Of the 11,019 people who died in those crashes, 37 percent were the drivers themselves; 31 percent were passengers of young drivers; 18 percent were drivers of other vehicles; 7 percent were passengers in other vehicles; and 7 percent were other road users, such as pedestrians or bicyclists.
GDL programs, which are used in every state except North Dakota, have played a role in the decrease in fatal crashes involving teen drivers, the study authors say. These programs place restrictions -- such as no nighttime driving or no driving with teen passengers -- on new drivers while they develop their road skills.
Lack of experience
"Teen drivers are nearly four times more likely than more experienced riders to crash, largely due to teens' lack of driving experience," says Grant Baldwin, director of the CDC's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
"Proven measures, including GDL and parental involvement, can reduce the toll of deaths and injuries among teen drivers and protect the lives of others who share the road with these new drivers," he says.
The CDC recommends that parents and teens sign a written agreement spelling out safe driving practices and the consequences for failing to adhere to them.
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Driving Home a Point
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, the CDC says. New drivers are more likely to be involved in a fatal crash because they simply don’t have much experience behind the wheel. As a parent, you can help keep your teen safe on the road by following these tips:
Always talk with your doctor for more information.
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