Fatal teen driver crashes increase across US, Wisconsin
Ross Terrell Wisconsin Public Radio New data from AAA shows drivers ages 16 and 17 killed in car crashes increased by 13.1 percent across the country from 2014 to 2015, the most recent years AAA has compiled data for. In Wisconsin, 16- and 17-yea...
Wisconsin Public Radio
New data from AAA shows drivers ages 16 and 17 killed in car crashes increased by 13.1 percent across the country from 2014 to 2015, the most recent years AAA has compiled data for.
In Wisconsin, 16- and 17-year-old drivers killed in car crashes increased by 14.2 percent; and from 2015 to 2016, it jumped 50 percent, said Donald Lyden, safety research analyst with the Wisconsin Bureau of Transportation.
Lyden said technology has made cars safer, but it has also has a down side - it's distracting.
"There are more things in the vehicle that can distract you from driving in general," Lyden said. "As a result, if you do get into a crash, perhaps with the better safety things, you will survive it better or not be injured as severely."
Lyden said most teen crashes involve the teenager being on their cell phones instead of focusing solely on driving.
To get safer drivers on the road, more first-time drivers should participate in graduated driver's licensing systems, said Russ Martin, director of government relations at the Governors Highway Safety Association. Wisconsin's program restricts the number and type of passengers a teen driver can have in the car within the first year of getting a license.
"The whole point during that learning to drive process when you're a teenager is to control that risk," Martin said. "Parents also play a critical role in not only teaching their kids to drive but also enforcing those kinds of rules."
Martin said increased parent involvement typically leads to safer driving.
Research from AAA shows fatal teen crashes increase 15 percent from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Crash rates tend to increase during the summer because teens are out of school and are out later in the evening, Martin said, and driving at night is one of the riskiest times for teen drivers.
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