According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 20% of Marylanders killed in truck accidents in 2006 were between the ages of 16 and 25, and speed or failure of the young driver to stay in their proper lane caused nearly 53% of these fatalities. According to the NTSB, young drivers represent less than 7% of this country’s driving population, but make up 13% of drivers involved in fatal car accidents. 66% of passengers killed when teens are behind the wheel are between the ages of 15 and 19 years old. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety young drivers need 500 hours of practice in order to be considered safe drivers.
I recently ran across a website offering a solid piece of advice for parents of young drivers. A group that trains teenaged drivers across the county provides parents with a sample Parent-Teen Driving Contract that helps parents and their young drivers develop rules that limit risky behavior.
In an effort to improve the driving of teenagers in Maryland, the state initiated a graduated licensing program. In this program, teens first must train with a learner’s permit for six months, then drive on a restricted license until their eighteenth birthday. Maryland’s program is similar to those of forty five other states including Virginia, Delaware, California, Texas, and New York. According to studies in other states with similar programs, graduated licensing has reduced teen traffic fatalities by as much as 58%.
We urge all families with young drivers to take steps to make sure that their teens are safe while drivers and passengers.