Teen driver deaths on the rise

After declining for many years, the number of fatalities among teen drivers is growing again.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 19, 2013 6:09PM

This post comes from Mark Vallet at partner site CarInsurance.com.

 

CarInsurance.com logoTeen driver deaths have increased dramatically in recent months, a new report finds.

 

Image: Car Accident (© Robert J. Bennett/age fotostock)The Governors Highway Safety Association says the number of U.S. deaths for drivers age 16 and 17 rose 19% in the first half of 2012. If the data hold up, it will be the second straight year that fatalities among the youngest drivers have risen, following eight straight years of declines.

 

While most safety experts expected traffic fatalities to rise as the economy recovers, the increase in teen driver deaths greatly outpaces those for the overall population. According to the National Safety Council, traffic deaths for all ages totaled an estimated 36,200 in 2012, a 5% increase from 2011.

 

The GHSA data from the first half of 2012, based on preliminary numbers supplied by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, showed the number of 16- and 17-year-olds who died behind the wheel was 240 compared with 202 the same period the year before.

 

Lead author Allan Williams is alarmed by the results.

 

"We know from research and experience that teen drivers are not only a danger to themselves but also a danger to others on the roadways," he says. "So these numbers are cause for concern."

 

Williams notes that teen deaths are still at historic lows. "We are still at a much better place than we were 10 or even five years earlier. However, the goal is to strive toward zero deaths, so our aim would be that these deaths should go down every year," says Williams.

 

Driver deaths by age

Year

16

17

18-19

20 and older

2000

435

564

1,533

19,241

2001

434

558

1,533

19,316

2002

488

639

1,612

19,736

2003

413

581

1,556

19,589

2004

400

569

1,526

19,413

2005

356

525

1,462

19,583

2006

326

535

1,474

19,201

2007

296

479

1,333

18,296

2008

231

349

1,167

16,402

2009

195

307

1,009

15,195

2010

157

253

873

14,641

2011

173

250

845

14,147

 

Why more teens are dying

There is no hard data on what is causing the rise in teen deaths, only theories:

 

Benefits of graduated driver licensing are leveling off. Graduated driver licensing requires an extended learner period. Young drivers accumulate more supervised driving experience followed by an intermediate stage that restricts teen passengers in the car as well as late-night driving. A full license is awarded only after completing those stages. 

 

GDL programs vary by state. While many were implemented in the mid-1990s, the majority of them were amended and strengthened between 2000 and 2006 and were credited for a big drop in teen death rates. The positive effect of these laws may have reached its peak.

 

While all states have GDL programs in place, no state has implemented all of the most stringent provisions recommended by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS predicts that if states adopted all of the provisions they could reduce fatal crashes by 17% to 63%. So far no state has stepped up to meet the challenge.

The economy is improving. When the economy tanked, teen drivers stayed off the road as gas and insurance costs put cruising the family car out of reach. "Teens tend to drive more when their parents are more financially secure, which leads to more fatal crashes," says Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of GHSA.

 

Adkins also speculates that teen employment has picked up in the last couple of years. Statistics seem to confirm his hunch. Teen joblessness hit a record during the recession, rising from 15.5%in 2006 to well over 20% in 2012.

 

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, teen hiring in 2012 was the strongest since 2006. Teens with a job usually need to drive.

 

Additionally, teens may not be waiting to drive as the economy improves. While there is no hard data on licensure rates, some experts feel the improved economy may put a license in reach of teens who could not afford it during the recession.

 

Gas prices aren't soaring. From 2008 to 2011, gas prices rose by about 40%; deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers fell dramatically. Since then, gas prices have leveled off and even declined a bit. Researchers have long documented the link between road fatalities and gas prices. The decline in deaths is most pronounced among the youngest drivers, studies find. 

 

Safety first, then savings

Car accidents are the No. 1 killer of teens. Most of the moves you can take to ensure your child's safety also can lower the car insurance rates you pay.

  • Delay licensure if possible. Even one extra year can make a huge difference in maturity. Be involved and set an example. Stay off the phone when you drive.
  • Learn the GDL rules and make sure your teen abides by them. Restrict nighttime driving as well as during inclement weather for the first year.
  • Think about a parent-teen driving contract as well; some insurers offer a discount.
  • Use technology to keep tabs on your teen and prevent her or him from calling or texting while driving.

Adding a teen to your policy will double your rates and in many cases triple them. 

 

More on CarInsurance.com and MSN Money:

 

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

1Comment
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

How much to insure that car?

Check out rates for more than 850 vehicles.

Step 1
Location
Step 2
Vehicle make
Vehicle model