North Branford Police Department
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New Drivers

Beginning Drivers' Crashes Differ

Teen drivers have the highest crash risk of any age group. Per mile traveled, they have the highest involvement rates in all types of crashes, from those involving only property damage to those that are fatal. The problem is worst among 16 year-olds, who have the most limited driving experience and an immaturity that often results in risk-taking behind the wheel. The characteristics of 16 year-olds' fatal crashes highlight these problems:

Percentage of Fatal Crashes by Characteristic, 1998

Driver Age: 16 17-19 20-49
Driver Error 80 75 62
Speeding 36 31 22
Single Vehicle 41 37 30
3+ Occupants 33 26 19
Drivers killed with 0.01+BAC 8 25 47

Driver Error: Compared with crashes of older drivers, those of 16 year-olds more often involve driver error.

Speeding: Sixteen-year-old drivers have a higher rate of crashes in which excessive speed is a factor.

Single-Vehicle Crashes: More of 16 year-olds' fatal crashes involve only the teen's vehicle. Typically these are high-speed crashes in which the driver lost control.

Passengers: Sixteen year-olds' fatal crashes are more likely to occur when other teenagers are in the car. The risk increases with every additional passenger.

Alcohol: Although this is a problem among drivers of all ages, it's actually less of a problem for 16 year-olds. Thirteen percent of fatally injured drivers in 1998 had positive blood alcohol concentrations (BACs). Only 8% had BACs of 0.01 % or greater.

Night Driving: This is a high-risk activity for beginners. Per mile driven, the nighttime fatal crash rate for 16 year-olds is about twice as high as during the day.

Low Belt Use: Teenagers are generally less likely than adults to use safety belts.

What Parents of Teenagers Can Do

Don't Rely Solely on Driver Education
High school driver education doesn't produce safer drivers. Poor skills aren't always to blame for teens' crashes. Their attitudes and decision-making skills matter more. Peer pressure influences them more than advice from adults. Training and education don't change these tendencies.

Restrict Night Driving
Most nighttime fatal crashes among young drivers occur between 9:00 PM and midnight. Outings late at night tend to be recreational. In these circumstances, even teens who usually follow all the rules can be easily distracted or encouraged to take risks.

Restrict Passengers
Teen passengers in a vehicle can distract a beginning driver and/or lead to greater risk. Almost two of every three teen passenger deaths (62%) occur in crashes with a teen driver. The best policy is to restrict teen passengers, especially multiple teens, all the time.

Supervise Practice Driving
Plan a series of practice sessions in a wide variety of situations, including nigh driving. Give beginners time to work up to challenges like driving in heavy traffic or on the turnpike. Supervised practice should be spread over at least six months and continue even after a teenager graduates from a learner's permit to a full license.

Remember…You Are A Role Model
Teens with crashes and violations often have parents with poor driving records.

Require Safety Belt Use
Seat belt use is lower among teenagers than older people. Insist on belts all the time.

Prohibit Driving After Drinking
Make it clear that it's illegal and highly dangerous for a teenager to drive rafter drinking alcohol or using any other drug. While alcohol isn't a factor in most crashes of 16-year old drivers, even small amounts of alcohol are impairing for teens.

Choose Vehicles for Safety, Not Image
Teenagers should drive vehicles that reduce their chances of a crash and offer protection in case they do crash. For example, small cars don't offer the best protection in a crash. Avoid cars with a performance image that might encourage speeding. Avoid trucks and sport utility vehicles - the smaller ones, especially, are more prone to roll over.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety