Maryland Teen Driver Safety : Fatal Auto Accident Rate Increases When Young Passengers Ride with Novice Drivers

A new insurance industry study confirms something Harford County, Maryland car accident injury lawyers know to be true: Teenage drivers can put themselves and other motorists and pedestrians at increased risk for injury and death. With far fewer miles and years under their belts as compared to adult drivers, teenage drivers lack the maturity, driving skills, and experience to always make sound driving decisions.

Add young passengers to the mix, and the auto accident death rate rate for teenage drivers increases even more.

Now a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that the problem of teens and motor vehicle crash fatalities begins even earlier than once thought. A recent analysis of crash data reveals that the risk for teens involved in fatal car crashes begins years before teenagers get their drivers’ licenses or learners’ permits — at the young age of 13. That’s a sobering thought for both parents of older Maryland teens as well as young teens who’ve barely entered high school year — but who may hang out with older friends or siblings that drive.

The study looked at U.S. automobile crashes from 2005 to 2009, where teens aged 13 through 15 died from their injuries. The authors found that most teens this age that died were passengers, and, in most cases — the drivers were other teenagers. In all 1,994 passengers and 299 drivers ages 13 -15 died in auto accidents. Those who were driving did so without learners’ permits or drivers’ licenses. The study concluded:

Most of the teens this age that died were passengers, and more often than not, another teenager was at the wheel…. It is not until age 17 that teens die in crashes more often as drivers than they do as passengers.

The study also pointed to the need for states such as Maryland to have stricter graduated drivers’ licensing laws — to not only ease young drivers onto our roads and highways to help them learn and practice safe driving techniques — but to limit when they may drive and how many young passengers may ride in their vehicles with them.

Currently, Maryland teens are eligible to enter our three-stage graduated licensing system (GLS) at age 15 and 9 months (with an intermediary stage after 16 years old and full licensure at age 18). Maryland has enacted nighttime driving restrictions for novice drivers as well as limits on numbers of young passengers who may ride along (see links below for more details). National driving safety advocates have recommended Maryland increase its entry age for learner’s permit eligibility to 16 years old, and to extend all driver restrictions through age 17.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:

The Number-One Killer of Kids and Young Adults in Maryland (Sept. 2011)

Maryland Highway Traffic Safety Gets a Green Light, But Teen Drivers Need Tougher Regulations to Prevent Auto Accidents (Jan. 2010)

Heads Up Maryland Parents : Teen Car Accident Rates Go Down When Parents Set Road Rules (Nov. 2010)


Teen Passenger Death Rate Starts Uptick at Age 13 (PDF)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Status Report, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp. 6 -7, March 6, 2012 Maryland

Maryland Dept. of Transportation: Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA): Learner’s Permit

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