Yesterday, the Texas Transportation Institute released the results of a study of teen drivers that concluded that teen drivers are not aware of the dangers that lead to most car wrecks. According to TTI, car crashes kill about 6,000 teens nationwide each year making car wrecks the number one cause of death for U.S. teenagers. The car accidents are primarily caused by driver inexperience combined with one of five factors: driving at night, distractions (cell phones/texting, other teen passengers, etc), speeding, low seat belt use, and alcohol. Fewer than forty percent of the teens surveyed could identify three or more of the risks. Particulars of the study include:
—Fewer than one percent of Texas teens understand that driving at night is unsafe, while almost half say they routinely drive after 10 p.m.
—Only a third of teens recognize that it’s dangerous to talk or text on a cell phone while they drive, and roughly half of them admit to doing so frequently.
—72 percent of teens cite alcohol or drug use more often than any other risk factor, even though those factors rank fifth on the list of crash causes.
The study also found that rural teen drivers were even more likely to be in car accidents. Rural teen drivers are twice as likely to talk on a cell phone or send text messages while driving, are more than three times more likely to have received a speeding ticket, and are more likely to drive at night.
Fortunately, TTI is also doing something about these car wreck dangers. They have developed a peer to peer safety program available at no cost to all Texas high schools that is designed to decrease these risks. In the schools that use it, it seems to be working. For example, cell phone use by drivers at the pilot schools has dropped thirty percent after students became active in the course.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.