Teen drivers in New York state better than most

Traffic crashes have been the number one teenage killer in the U.S. for years. The number of young driver and passenger fatalities has increased by 19.5% in 2020 compared to the previous year. In 2020, almost 3,000 teens in the U.S. aged 15-20 were killed in motor vehicle crashes. That means that about eight teens die daily from motor vehicle crashes and hundreds more are injured. In addition, motor vehicle crash deaths among teens 15-20 years of age resulted in about $4.8 billion in medical costs for crashes that occurred in 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This information comes to me from Zutobi, a popular online driver education company in the U.S. Their work includes educating drivers on safe behavior on the roads and raising awareness on important driving topics.

However, there is some good news involving New York state teen drivers for a change. Zutobi looked at young driver-related fatalities by drivers 15-20 years old, including teen passengers, for the year 2020, the latest year for complete data. They then ranked each state by fatalities per 100,000 licensed teens. New York state ranked among the lowest fatality rate.

Kentucky has the worst teenage driving fatality rate in the country, with 71.45 deaths per 100,000 teenage drivers. The second worst state is North Carolina (45.34), followed by Arkansas (45.12), Montana (44.08), Mississippi (41.89), New Mexico (40.86), Louisiana (35.22), Arizona (32.79), Texas (31.77), and Florida (31.11). Interestingly, the worst states are in the south, but no reason was given for this.

New York state’s rate was fifth best of all 50 states at 11.65 fatalities per 100,000 licensed teen drivers, just about half of the national average of 22.56. Only New Hampshire (11.40), Wisconsin (11.02), New Jersey (9.62), and Minnesota (9.52) were lower. For the full Zutobi report, search for “Teen Driver Report — The States with the Most and Least Teenage Driving Fatalities” (zutobi.com)

Studies have shown that teenage drivers are much more likely to be involved in a serious road crash from the moment they start driving without the supervision of a licensed driver. Many of these crashes can be attributed to consumption of alcohol, distracted driving, speeding, and lack of scanning the road ahead. This suggests a changed behavior when driving alone, which may be due to overconfidence and insufficient (or bad) driver education, among other reasons.

Teenage drivers need to understand the reason why they must follow driving safety practices, not just the fact that they exist. Furthermore, teenage drivers should study to become safe and responsible drivers, not just to pass the permit and driving tests. Unfortunately, it’s often the other way around.

Creating a proper foundation at an early stage is pivotal when it comes to making safe drivers and reducing the number of teenagers killed in driving crashes.


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