Speeding Still a Factor in a Third of Fatal Teen Driving Crashes

June 27, 2013

Speeding is a primary culprit in a third of fatal crashes involving teen drivers, according to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

“Speeding-Related Fatal Crashes Among Teen Drivers and Opportunities for Reducing the Risks,” authored by Dr. Susan Ferguson, states that speeding as a contributor in fatal teen driver crashes has inched up over the past decade from 30 percent in 2000 to 33 percent in 2011 while total teen fatalities have gone down dramatically during that same period. From 2000 to 2011, 19,447 fatal crashes of teen drivers were speeding-related. The report was funded through a grant from State Farm.

“Curbing teen speeding is vital since no other age group has a higher crash risk. Speeding is a common factor in the fatal crashes of teen male and female drivers,” said Dr. Ferguson, former senior vice president of research for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“Speeding is more prevalent among teen males, at night, and in the presence of other teen passengers. When three or more teen passengers are in a vehicle driven by a 16-year-old male, almost half of their fatal crashes are speeding-related,” she added.

Despite its significant role, speeding is not getting the attention it deserves and must be addressed if further progress is to be made in the area of teen driving safety. Increases in speed limits in many states coupled with a general belief that speeding is acceptable also exacerbate the problem. Dr. Ferguson notes, “Unless speeding is recognized as a dangerous behavior, much the same as drunk driving, addressing it will be difficult.”

In addition to discussing the problem of teens and speeding, the report also focuses on potential solutions. Graduated driver licensing (GDL), which has sparked record gains in teen driver safety since first enacted in the U.S. in the mid-nineties, has the potential to address speeding.

“This report draws attention to the importance of strong GDL laws that place nighttime and passenger restrictions on newly-licensed drivers,” stressed Kellie Clapper, assistant vice president, Public Affairs at State Farm. “These laws help keep young drivers safe by limiting their exposure to conditions when speeding is likely to occur.”

In addition to an emphasis on enforcement, the report advises states and local jurisdictions to consider installing automated speed cameras – an effective antidote to speeding for drivers of all ages.

Parents are influential in shaping the driving behavior of their teenagers, and many programs are available to help parents manage their beginning teenagers’ driving in a way that will encourage safe driving behavior. The report offers the following tips to parents.

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association

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