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Most Fatalities in Teen Crashes Are Not the Drivers

Stats show safety programs need to be extended to others on road as well, study finds

FRIDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Only one-third of people killed in fatal crashes involving teen drivers are the drivers themselves, a new report shows.

The other two-thirds of victims are passengers, drivers and occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

"For every teen driver killed in a crash, almost twice as many other people die, which underscores the link between teen driver safety and the safety of everyone on the road," Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA president and CEO, said in an American Automobile Association news release.

The analysis of U.S. crash data from 1998 to 2007 showed that crashes involving drivers aged 15 to 17 killed 28,138 people. Of those, 10,388 (36.9 percent) were the teen drivers. The other 17,750 (63.1 percent) victims included 8,829 passengers of the teen drivers, 6,858 occupants of other vehicles, and 2,063 non-motorists.

"Young drivers face an array of potentially deadly challenges at the wheel. Parents and teens need to understand the serious responsibility of driving and the risks and consequences involved," Peter Kissinger, AAA Foundation president and CEO said in the news release.

A previous analysis of data from 1995 to 2004 found that crashes involving drivers aged 15 to 17 killed 30,917 people. Of those deaths, 36.2 percent were the teen drivers and 63.6 percent were others. The drop in deaths between this and the most recent analysis suggests that graduated licensing and other efforts to improve teen driver safety are having an effect.

"During the last decade, as states improved their teen licensing systems and AAA has helped parents get more involved, we have seen reductions in teen driver deaths and even larger reductions in the number of other people killed. Clearly, measures put into place to save teen drivers help us all," Darbelnet said.

Parents can play an important role by selecting a quality driving school for their teen, establishing a parent-teen driving agreement, choosing a safe vehicle for their teen, discussing safe driving with their teen, and giving their teen plenty of driving practice time, according to the AAA.

More information

The Nemours Foundation offers parents a list of rules for teen drivers.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: AAA, news release, February 2009

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