Even though Connecticut teen drivers engage in risky driving behavior less often than peers nationwide, the number of teen-related fatal crashes in the state during the first six months of 2020 more than doubled compared to the same period last year, says AAA Northeast.
There were 15 fatal crashes between January and June 2020 compared to the 7 during the same period in 2019, said AAA Northeast, which obtained the data from the UCONN Crash Data Repository.
AAA Northeast is sharing this information to mark National Teen Driver Safety Week this week (October 18-24), to encourage parents and guardians to focus on safe driving with their driving rookies.
“Parents play a vital role in communicating safety information.” said Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast spokeswoman. “And they certainly hold the key to a teen driver’s success behind the wheel.” That includes modeling appropriate behavior behind the wheel and complying with Graduated Driver’s Licensing (GDL) laws, which allow teens to gradually learn the rules of the road under less risky conditions.
Speeding, driving distracted, driving with other teen passengers, and driving impaired are considered risky behind-the-wheel behavior by teens. “Teens don’t have a monopoly on bad driving habits, but risky behavior is especially dangerous when combined with a teen’s inexperience,” said Mayko.
According to the UConn Crash Data Repository:
- In 2019, teen drivers in Connecticut were involved in more than 11,700 crashes – equivalent to one crash every 45 minutes – with Friday the most common day of incidents;
- A total of 25 fatal teen driver-related crashes occurred in 2019, up from 22 in 2018; and
- Everyone’s at risk in teen driver crashes: 85% of teen driver crashes involved another motor vehicle or a non-motorist, such as a pedestrian or bicyclist.
The Connecticut numbers are problematic since motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens in the US, said Mayko.
Despite these statistics, there is some good news: according to the Centers for Disease Control’s 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Connecticut high school students rank below or the same as the National averages for risky behaviors. But, even so, the numbers are still alarming:
|Behavior||Connecticut Average||National Average|
|Rarely or never wears a seatbelt||6%||7%|
|Texted/emailed while driving||32%||39%|
|Rode with a driver drinking alcohol||14%||17%|
|Drove after drinking alcohol||6%||5%|
AAA Northeast also offers resources for parents to prepare teens with safe driving habits at teendriving.aaa.com. The site includes a sample parent-teen driving contract, access to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s latest research, tips to teach students to drive, and information about the state’s GDL.