Vehicle Choice a More Serious Risk Factor for Teens Than for Other Drivers
Many of the studies on teen drivers, as well as policies and laws aimed at limiting various teen driving privileges, focus on characteristics of the teens themselves that are known to influence their safety in vehicles. However, the crashworthiness and crash-avoidance features of a vehicle are also important considerations for occupants of any age, and recent research shows that teens, as a group, tend to be at a disadvantage when it comes to benefiting from today’s safety features.
As covered in the related articles on this page, teens tend to drive in older vehicles with fewer safety features than do other drivers. This contributes significantly to their high crash and injury rate. To help parents reduce these risks, the IIHS rated 95 used vehicle models as either “best” or “good,” indicating specific model years for each.
In the past few years, a great amount of research and program energy has turned to the subject of teen driver safety, so there is more support than ever for people who are looking for information and resources to help them protect teens in their community. This article, which focuses on the significant offerings of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, and Safe Kids U.S.A., is not meant to be all-inclusive, but it provides a look at three excellent go-to resources.
A 2006 NHTSA-supported study conducted by Johns Hopkins University found that states with comprehensive graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs experienced a 20 percent drop in fatal crashes involving 16-year-olds (Compton & Ellison-Potter, 2008).
All states have some form of GDL, but most are not considered comprehensive. NHTSA defines a comprehensive GDL program as one that includes at least five of these seven components:
A study by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and State Farm insurance shows that teens who drive in states with primary seat belt law enforcement are more likely to buckle up than those in states with secondary enforcement.* It also found that teens buckle up more often while driving (82 percent) than as passengers (69 percent).
While relatively few children are driven by teenage drivers, those young passengers are three times more likely to be injured than those driven by adults. Children riding with teens are often not correctly buckled up and more children under age 13 ride in the front seat.