Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Teens in Fatal Crashes Are Too Often Driving Unsafe Cars

Newspaper article MinnPost.com

Teens in Fatal Crashes Are Too Often Driving Unsafe Cars

Article excerpt

Teenagers killed on U.S. roads in recent years were about twice as likely to be driving a vehicle six to 15 years old than adults their parents' age, according to a new study.

They were also significantly more likely than middle-aged adults to be driving small cars and vehicles without important safety features.

These troubling findings suggest that parents need to become better educated about vehicle safety -- and to make wiser choices when purchasing cars or trucks that will be driven by their children.

The report was written by researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and published Thursday in the journal Injury Prevention.

Parents don't do what they say

As background information in the study points out, fatal vehicle crashes involving teens have dropped dramatically since 1996, thanks in large part to graduated driver licensing laws.

Yet, per mile driven, the rate of serious vehicle crashes, including fatal ones, involving teens remains tragically high -- about three times higher than that for adults.

Obviously, we need to be looking for additional ways of keeping our teenage drivers safe.

One of those ways is to make sure that teens are driving safe vehicles. Research has shown, for example, that larger, heavier vehicles provide, in general, better crash protection than smaller, lighter ones. So do newer vehicles, which are more likely to have important safety features.

But, as surveys have shown, although parents state that safety is the top priority they use when choosing a car for their teenage son or daughter, many of those same parents buy their children older, less safe cars.

Five years of data

For the current study, IIHS researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System for the years 2008-2012. This database includes all vehicle crashes on U.S. roads in which at least one person died within 30 days of the accident. The researchers looked at the types, sizes and ages of the vehicles involved in these deadly crashes for two groups: teens (ages 15-17) and middle-aged adults (ages 30-50). They chose that adult age range because it includes most parents of teenagers. …

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