This is in part thanks to new laws and programs that teach teens the importance of responsible driving. Even with these programs, however, the number of teenage motor vehicle accidents is still far too high.
National statistics show that in 2005, almost 3500 teen drivers died in car crashes. While thats down from almost 8000 in 1995, drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 still have four times the death rates of older drivers. With motor vehicle accidents remaining the number one cause of death for people aged 15-20.
What accounts for the high number of teenage car accidents? Distraction seems to be a big culprit. Teens are still learning to drive and may be fatally distracted by talking to passengers, answering a cell phone, or attempting to balance a hot cup of coffee or a large soda and a steering wheel.
Another factor in teenage car accidents seems to be alcohol. In 2005, almost a quarter of the young drivers killed were legally intoxicated.
One thing that seems to be helping the number of teenage car accidents is the advent of graduated drivers licensing programs, currently available in 36 states. Most graduated drivers licensing programs offer three or four stages young drivers must go through to obtain a license.
The first stage usually involves some kind of supervised learning period. The teenage driver has a permit, but can only drive with an adult present in the car. This stage lasts until the driver has accumulated a minimum number of supervised hours.
The teenage driver then receives an intermediate license. He or she may now drive without direct adult supervision, but certain restrictions are placed on driving. These may include a ban on same age passengers and cell phones and a curfew.
By the time the driver receives an unrestricted license, he or she has had plenty of time to practice and form good driving habits. These programs may be a pain in the neck to some teens, but they have reduced the number of teenage car accidents. As more states adopt such programs, the number of teen driving fatalities will hopefully continue to decline.