Why Teenagers Crash Cars

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The week of October 16 through 22 is AAA’s National Teen Driver Safety Week. The observance is far from trivial. According to AAA, motor vehicle crashes are leading cause of death among U.S. teenagers.

In 2014, 3,227 teens were killed in car crashes and another 399,500 were injured. The leading cause of these crashes are distracted driving (59%), including interacting with passengers and using a cell phone.

Not only do teens die and suffer injuries in motor vehicle crashes. A full 40% of people killed in teen crashes and 50% of people injured were either pedestrians or occupants of another vehicle.

As we noted in a report earlier this year on the most dangerous state for teen drivers (Montana), strong, state-required graduated driving license (GDL) components reported the highest reductions in fatal crashes among drivers 15 to 17 years old.

Yet, according to a survey by CarInsurance.com, more than half of parents allowed their teen drivers to violate one or another GDL component, most often (33%) restrictions on teen passengers.

While deaths and injuries are by far more important, a related issue for most families is the cost of insurance for teen drivers. As any parent of a teen driver knows, the cost of insuring a 16-year -old male driver can be breathtaking. CarInsurance.com recently updated its car insurance averages for 16- to 19-year-old drivers. The data are presented by state and include the cost of a policy for the teen driver alone and the cost of adding a teen driver to the parent’s policy. Data are also broken down by the teen driver’s sex because male teens are more expensive to insure than female ones.

The average rate for a 16-year-old driver (male and female combined) with his or her own policy is $5,473 a year. Adding a teen to the parents policy is generally cheaper, but the average increase in the car’s insurance bill rose by 152%. For a 16-year-old male, the increase was 176%, compared with an increase of 129% for a 16-year-old female.

CarInsurance.com has compiled insurance information for 16- though 19-year-old drivers and offers more details and suggestions on how to keep a lid on insurance costs. AAA has also prepared a fact sheet on teen driving for teen driver safety week.

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