New teen drivers three times as likely to be involved in a deadly crash

AAA: Deadly outlook for new teen drivers
Posted at 3:25 PM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 18:25:40-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - New teen drivers are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study released Wednesday. AAA and an emergency room physician from Sharp Memorial Hospital have recommendations for parents.

The summer driving season between Memorial Day and Labor Day represents the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers, according to traffic safety experts.  The average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year.

The California Department of Insurance cites three factors that commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers:

  • Distraction: Other passengers and phone use play a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes
  • Not buckling up: Data from 2015 show 60% of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a seat belt
  • Speeding: Nearly 30 percent of deadly teen driver crashes involve high speeds

"Statistics show teens are more likely to be involved in a crash causing significant injuries, which is devastating emotionally and also financially, as it can cause your insurance rates to nearly double," said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

The AAA Foundation studied teen driving habits and found that teenagers using their mobile phones had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash.  The researchers also measured reaction times in rear-end crashes and found that teen drivers using a cell phone failed to brake or steer more than half of the time before impact.

Dr. Joe Bellezzo works in the emergency room at Sharp Memorial Hospital and says it's crucial for parents to point out the dangers of mobile phone use behind the wheel.

To keep teenagers safe, the California Department of Insurance and other experts recommend parents:

  • Have conversations with their teens early and often about distraction and speeding
  • Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving
  • Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers
  • Look into pre-driving classes, available through AAA StartSmart