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New teen drivers are 3 times as likely to be involved in a deadly crash

SACRAMENTO – Citing new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research about teens and distracted driving, the California Department of Insurance, AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah, California Highway Patrol, CSAA Insurance Group and the ACIC, the California voice of Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, warned that new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash.

“While the summer months represent a break from school for most teens, they also represent one of the deadliest time periods for teens drivers, who have the highest percentage of auto collisions of any drivers,” Commissioner Jones said. “Statistics show teens are more likely to be involved in a crash causing significant injuries, which is devastating emotionally and also financially, as it can cause your insurance rates to nearly double.”

According to traffic safety experts, the summer driving season between Memorial Day and Labor Day represents the deadliest 100 days for teen drivers, as the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year. Over the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during this deadly period.

“Statistics show that our youngest drivers are at the highest risk, as teen crashes spike during the summer months because teens are out of school and on the road,” John Moreno, AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah manager of public affairs, said. “The AAA Foundation’s research found inexperience paired with greater exposure on the road can create a deadly combination for teen drivers.”

In Sacramento County during 2015, 13 teen drivers, ages 16-17 years old, were at fault in fatal crashes and another 800 teen drivers were at fault in injury crashes, according to 2015 crash data from the California Highway Patrol. The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2015 crash data, the latest data available. To reverse this alarming trend, parents are urged to help reduce the number of deadly crashes on the road by getting more involved and talking to their teens about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel.

“Parents play a pivotal role in keeping our roads safe because they are teens’ first role models for safe driving behavior,” Paula Downey, president and CEO of CSAA Insurance Group, said which provides insurance to AAA members in Northern California. “By modeling good behavior – such as staying off the phone and buckling safety belts – adults help teens learn how to be safe drivers.”

The National Safety Council recently announced that 2016 may have been the deadliest year on our roads since 2007. One of the most frightening trends is the ubiquitous use of smartphones behind the wheel. A prior AAA Foundation study found that teen drivers manipulating their cellphone, includes calling, texting or other uses, had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash. The researchers also measured reaction times in rear-end crashes and found that teen drivers using a cellphone failed to react more than half of the time before the impact, meaning they crashed without braking or steering.

“The United States is seeing some of the largest increases in auto accidents in more than 50 years. California ranks in the top 10 states with the biggest increase in accidents,” Armand Feliciano, ACIC vice president, said. “Social media apps and texting are powerful distractions to our teens driving during summer months.”

To keep roads safer through the rest of the summer and beyond, parents are encouraged to have conversations with their teens early and often about distraction and speeding, teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving, make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers and look into pre-driving classes such as the AAA Dare to Prepare classes for parents and teens.


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