Motor vehicle crashes remain leading cause of teen death in U.S.

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — With this week being National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 18-24), officials say motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of teen deaths in the country.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens ages 15 to 18.

In Virginia alone, the DMV reported 17,600 crashes involving teen drivers (age 15-19) in 2019, which resulted in over 9,200 injuries and 65 fatalities.

In 2018, there were 2,121 people killed in crashes involving a teen driver and 719 deaths were the teen driver, according to NHTSA.  This was down 5% from 2017. Still, in 2018, an estimated 88,000 teen drivers were injured in motor vehicle crashes and approximately 256,000 people were injured in crashes involving teen drivers. This accounts for nearly 10% of all crash injuries in 2018.

 The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that or every mile driven, new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash.

Older teens are also at risk.

Drivers first licensed at age 18 are more likely to be involved in a crash resulting in injuries during their first year of solo driving than new drivers licensed at any other age, according to the AAA Foundation study.

In addition to supervised driving, officials are urging parents to talk about safety and risky driving behaviors with their teens including:

  • Impaired Driving – While teens are legally too young to buy, possess or consume alcohol, 16% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes nationwide had alcohol in their system in 2018, according to NHTSA. Alcohol and marijuana slow reaction time and can have deadly consequences when driving.
  • Distracted Driving – Texting and driving can be just as deadly as drinking and driving. In fact, taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds to look at a text doubles the risk of a crash. And for drivers under 18 in Virginia, cell phone use (handheld or hands-free) is illegal while driving.
  • Aggressive Driving – Speeding, tailgating, and erratic driving are never acceptable. Not only are these behaviors dangerous for your teen driver, but they also put other road users at risk.
  • Seat Belt Safety – While seat belt use is one of the simplest ways to stay safe in the vehicle, too many teens do not buckle up. In 2018, 45% of teen driver fatalities were not wearing seat belts. Everyone buckles up in every seat for every drive.

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