The horrific accident in Ohio that killed six teenagers is every parent’s nightmare. It’s a tragic reminder that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for US teens. The CDC reports that per mile driven, teen drivers aged 16-19 are more likely than drivers aged 20 and over to be in a fatal crash. Indeed, all the passengers of the Ohio SUV were aged 14-19; the driver was 19.
We don’t know all the facts yet. But in many ways the details we do know fit the all-too-common risk factors that contribute to teen accidents:
- Driving with other teenagers – Driving with another teen increases the chance of a crash – the risk multiplies with each additional teen. In Ohio, eight teenage friends piled into a car meant to seat five.
- Speeding – The driver was speeding down a two-lane road when she lost control in a curve and the car smashed into the left side guard rail and flipped into a pond.
- Not wearing seatbelts – Not wearing seatbelts turns accidents into fatalities. Authorities believe few or none of the Ohio teens were wearing a seatbelt. Alarmingly, only 54% of high school students report they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else.
The weather does not appear to be a factor, and authorities are awaiting toxicology reports to determine if alcohol or drugs were involved – also risk factors.
Parents can make a difference
In many ways, teenagers engage in similar risky behaviors as adults – the problem is they have less maturity and experience behind the wheel to handle the consequences. To find out how parents can reduce their teen’s driving risks, download our free report “Teen Driving Risks: What Can Parents Do?”