A new report by highway safety experts indicates almost half of all fatal car accidents involving teenage drivers and passengers are caused by speeding, which results in thousands of preventable deaths every year.
The Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) released the Teens and Speeding: Breaking the Deadly Cycle report this month, highlighting the significant role speeding plays in teen driver accidents and deaths, providing a series of recommendations for parents about how to mitigate risky driving behaviors among teens.
Speeding has become a major concern for highway safety regulators, with previous reports finding that excessive speed is involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle deaths. Moreover, motor vehicle accidents have become the leading cause of death for teens between the age of 15 and 18 years in the United States, ahead of all other types of injury, disease or violence.
According to the GHSA report 15,510 teenage drivers between the ages 16 to 19 were involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes from 2015 to 2019, with about one-third (5,202) of those fatal incidents caused by speeding. Of all motor vehicle fatalities recorded during the study period, the proportion of fatal crashes involving speeding was higher for teenage drivers than for any other age groups.
The data indicates teenagers accounted for 43% of all driver and passenger deaths related to speeding. Teenagers were also found to have the highest percentage of fatal motor vehicle crashes in which a roadway departure (71%) or rollover (41%) occurred. Researchers suggest inexperience and a lack of impulse control places teen drivers at greater risk of being involved in these types of fatal crashes, as they are not experienced enough to react to roadway hazards, often causing them to lose control and veer off the road.
Researchers also found night time driving and seatbelt use played a large factor in the fatality ratings for teenagers. According to the study, more than half of teen speeding-related fatal crashes occurred at night, with 20% occurring between midnight and 5 a.m. The U.S National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) indicates more than half of teenagers killed during the study period were not wearing seatbelts at the time of crash.
With thousands of teenagers killed each year in preventable automobile crashes, GHSA is encouraging parents and guardians to play an instrumental role in determine what, when and where newly licensed teenagers are allowed to drive.
Parents are being encouraged to always restrict the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle while a teenager is behind the wheel, as the agency found the percent of fatal crashes increased with each additional teen passenger in the vehicle.
The NHTSA claims approximately 99,000 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18 years are injured every year in car crashes, while more than 2,000 young drivers are killed annually.
As part of a federal effort to combat the consistent number of teenager driver fatalities, the NHTSA runs an annual National Teen Driver Safety Week encouraging parents or guardians to have conversations about safe driving with their teenage children, in an effort to prevent roughly 100,000 teenage auto accident injuries annually.
Officials encourage parents to talk to new teenage drivers to take the proper safety precautions to make sure everyone stays safe during travels. The five tips include no cell phone use or texting while driving, no extra passengers, no speeding, no alcohol, and no driving without a seat belt.