Finally we have some good news regarding car accident statistics for a change. We came across the 2011 report of “Hospitalizations and Deaths Among Teen Motor Vehicle Occupants” from the Colorado Department of Transportation and noticed some very encouraging news. It looks like the graduated licensing laws for Colorado that were put in place over 10 years ago are having the desired effect.
Car accidents remain the leading cause of death among teenagers at the national and state level, but those fatalities appear to be going down overall. In 1996, 87 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 years old died in car accidents. In 2010 that number was 39, making it a full 60% lower.
The graduated drivers’ license program certainly gets some credit for this improvement. The program allows teen drivers to get used to being behind the wheel while supervised by a licensed driver for at least six months before they start driving on their own.
An increase in seatbelt use among teens certainly also plays a part in keeping car accident fatalities among young people down, as a reported 82.2% of teenagers wear seatbelts on Colorado’s roads.
In non-fatal accidents, injuries requiring hospitalization are also on the decline. In 1997, according to the report, 195.3 out of every 100,000 teens involved in a car accident required hospitalization. The 2010 numbers paint a much more encouraging picture. Only 60.4 of every 100,000 teens had to be hospitalized following car accidents.
Of course, risks still exist for teenagers on Colorado’s roads. When teens drive with teen passengers, their risk of being in an auto accident goes up, more than likely due to the inherent distraction fellow teenagers represent. Teens are also more likely to be involved in car accidents in the evening hours between 3 pm and 10 pm, and late at night between 10 pm and 7 am.
Information about these risks can help parents stay more informed, and therefore better able to instruct their teens on highway safety. If you are a parent of a teen driver, emphasize the importance of wearing a seatbelt and avoiding distractions behind the wheel to help keep your teen safe on the road.