NHTSA has released a report concerning fatal crashes by young drivers. The report shows that
- Youths 15 to 20 years old represented 9 percent of the U.S. population in 2007 and 6 percent of the licensed drivers; however, 19 percent of the fatalities in the United States in 2007 were related to young-driver crashes.
- Approximately two-thirds of the people killed in fatal young-driver crashes are the young drivers themselves or the passengers (of all ages) of the young drivers.
- Of the passengers killed riding in vehicles with young drivers, 67 percent are in the same 15-to-20-year-old age group as the drivers.
- Fifty-six percent of the fatal crashes and 57 percent of the fatalities involving young drivers occur on rural road-ways.
- In 2007, 6,982 young drivers were involved in 6,669 fatal crashes. A total of 7,650 fatalities occurred in those crashes.
The 2007 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) states that overall restraint use has increased slightly from the previous year, to 82 percent. However, belt use among people 16 to 24 was only 77 percent. In 2007, of the 15- to 20-year-old passenger vehicle occupants killed in all fatal crashes, 61 percent (of those whose restraint use was known) were unrestrained. Of the total fatalities in which restraint use was known in 2007, 54 percent of the vehicle occupants killed were unrestrained.
In 2007, 31 percent of young drivers 15 to 20 years old who were killed had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .01 grams/deciliter (g/dL) or greater, and 26 percent of young drivers had BACs of .08 g/dL or greater. These figures are relatively similar to the overall driving population in which 37 percent involved BACs of .01 g/dL or greater and 32 per-cent involved BACs of .08 g/dL or greater in 2007.
Those of us who are parents of teenage drivers know that few things terrify us more than the thought of our children behind the wheel. These statistics remind us that these fears are grounded in fact and that we must continue to educate our young drivers of the need for common-sense and vigilance behind the wheel.