Teenage drivers crash more
A review of licensing
By Karen Wims
Photo by Chris Johnson
The AAA Foundationās driver-ZED computer program gives teen drivers a chance to
test their skills.
Photo by Mary M. Ford
Stephanie Faul and Chris Johnson demonstrate the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's driver-Zed
computer driver training.
|Automobile crashes are the number one killers of
teens÷accounting for more than 5,000 deaths per year. According to the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, a 16-year-old driver is 42 percent more likely to be
involved in a crash than a 17-year-old with just one additional year of driving
In addition, 16-year-old drivers were involved in 10,337 crashes per
100,000,000 vehicle miles of travel. The rate for 17-year-olds was just 3,229. These are
alarming statistics when 41.8 percent of 16-year-olds hold a driver's license.
Other countries and many states have enacted graduated license laws with some success.
Restrictions may include six months of crash-free, conviction-free driving, zero tolerance
for alcohol, no driving between midnight and 6:00 a.m. without authorization, provisional
color-coded drivers' licenses, and successful completion of a driver education
Driver-Zed program a hit
The driver-ZED program developed by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAAFTS) uses
realistic traffic situations to help teens spot risks. This program has met an
enthusiastic response, according to Christopher Johnson, a research analyst at AAAFTS.
"The students who go through this program have found it to be very helpful in real
time driving situations," he says.
Parents can also take steps to help prevent or reduce the number of crashes involving teen
drivers. Parents should:
- supervise their teen's driving time;
- give the teen supervised practice behind the wheel while he or she has a learner's
permit and throughout the first year of licensed driving;
- put a limit on the number of passengers allowed in the car;
- limit the teen's driving during periods of increased risk such as weekends;
- establish a house curfew;
- insist that the teen and any passengers wear safety belts;
- set limits on the areas the teen can drive;
- prohibit the teen from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- encourage the teen to use good judgment both as a driver and as passenger;
- and be a good role model.
Unfortunately, none of these suggestions totally safeguards against crashes by teen
drivers, but their practical application may prevent injury or death to teens and