Ask any teen made to pay his or her own car insurance and they will tell you: it’s expensive!!!
Since insurance is all about risk, these high premiums indicate the problem. Drivers aged 16- to 19-year-olds are far more at risk for accidents than any other age group. In fact, for each mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are almost four times more likely than other drivers to crash that many other age groups.
Is it an urban myth that male teen drivers are in more accidents? No. The insurance rates are set in part by statistics from real crash data. The car accident death rate for teen male drivers and passengers is more than one and a half times female teen driver (19.4 killed per 100,000 male drivers compared with 11.1 killed per 100,000 female drivers). This does not mean that boys are worse drivers. Teen girls cause a lots of accidents. But the boys test themselves at much higher speeds on average.
This year we will lose over 5,000 teens ages 16 to 20 in car crashes. Almost 400,000 drivers age 16 to 20 will be seriously injured in these accidents in the same time! This is about the entire population of metro Knoxville, Tennessee, hurt every year.
Alcohol is a serious problem. In one reported survey, almost 30% of teens reported that just within the previous 30 days, they had ridden in a car with a driver drinking alcohol. Many rural teens grow up drinking and driving through the country on weekend nights. More than half of teen deaths from car crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight and 54% occurred on weekends: Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. It is only a matter of time until there is a crash. Unfortunately, the inevitable crash is almost always at high speed. In fact, 23% of drivers age 15 to 20 who died in car crashes had a Blood Alcohol Reading of 0.08 or higher.
The “Immortality Complex.” Teens are also more dangerous because they do not intrinsically understand that they can actually be hurt or die. This minimizes seat belt use. It was found that with teen drivers killed in auto crashes after drinking and driving, a full 74% did not wear a seat belt.
Jeff Foxworthy is credited with a relevant quote. He says the last words of many a redneck are, “Hey guys, watch this!” The stereotype of the daredevil male teen driver, with a beer between his legs, the stereo blaring and a back seat full of friends rocketing through the curvy rural roads at night at 85 mph are supported by common experience and crash statistics.
Recent changes in Tennessee law limiting passengers for beginning drivers are hoped to reduce the tragedies. In the meantime, new technology that reads and reports speeding to parents remotely might hold some promise.
But for us parents, there will be a lot of sleepless nights.
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