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Car accidents still leading cause of death for teens

Teen drivers continue to face significant risks on the road and have the highest chance of being killed in a car accident compared to all other age groups. Car accidents continue to be the leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 20, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

In 2010, 2,700 teens between 16 and 19 were killed in car accidents, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. In addition, over 282,000 teens were involved in car accidents resulting in injuries that required medical treatment during that same year.

Why are teenage drivers more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident? Researchers suggest that there are several factors that continue to contribute to the high fatality rate for teen drivers. Some of the most common reasons for fatal car accidents involving teens include:

  • Teens are least likely to wear their seat belts, which puts them at a higher risk for being fatally or seriously injured in a crash.
  • When teens drive with more than one passenger, they are more likely to crash.
  • Teens get distracted easily by technology and other people in the vehicle and leads to many car accidents.
  • Teens have less experience driving so they are more likely to drive faster in weather conditions than recommended and they are more likely to take risks while driving like trying to pass or pulling out in front of another vehicle.

Teens continue to have the highest car accident fatality rate despite many states passing graduated driver licensing laws that limit when teens can drive and who they can ride with. Unfortunately, it may be a while before the teen car accident fatality rate declines due to the several safety issues that need to be addressed among teen drivers.

Source: CNN, "Fatal wrecks underscore risks for young drivers," Tom Watkins, March 12, 2013

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