National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 15-21.
“The majority of crashes occur during the first six months of licensed driving when young, inexperienced drivers have not fully developed critical driving skills and habits,” said DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and Acting GTSC Chair Terri Egan. “Parents and other adult mentors, such as teachers and coaches, have considerable influence on teens, and studies have shown that teens whose parents encourage them to develop safe driving skills are less likely to crash, drive intoxicated, use a cell phone when driving, or speed, and they are more likely to buckle up.”
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. In 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 1,972 teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes, and an estimated 99,000 teen passenger-vehicle drivers were injured in motor vehicle crashes.
Drivers 16 to 18 years of age are overrepresented in crashes in New York State, according to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR). While these drivers comprise less than 2 percent of the licensed drivers in the state, they account for 4 percent of the drivers involved in all crashes and fatal and personal injury (F&PI) crashes statewide from 2013-2015.
ITSMR estimates that, over that three-year period, more than half (52 percent) of the passengers who were killed or injured in New York State while riding in vehicles with drivers 16 to 18 years of age were also in the same age group. In comparison, only 7 percent of the passengers killed or injured riding with drivers of all ages were 16-18 years old.
The greatest risk factor in teen driver safety remains inexperience. Research shows that 75 percent of serious crashes involving teens were caused by driver error. The three most common errors: driving too fast for road conditions, being distracted, and failing to detect a hazard, accounted for nearly half of all serious crashes.
In New York State, per ITSMR data for 2013-2015, “Failure to Yield the Right of Way” (16 percent), “Driver Inattention/Distraction” (16 percent) and “Following Too Closely” (15 percent) were the top three contributing factors cited for drivers ages 16-18 involved in F&PI statewide. DMV and GTSC advise parents to help their teens recognize and avoid those risky behaviors.
In September, GTSC announced the Coaches Care contest, which awards $3,000 grants to school districts to teach young people good driving habits. The program enlists leaders from high school athletic programs throughout the state, providing them with traffic safety information and materials to help teach students safe driving habits.
New York State requires drivers under age 18 to progress through the phases of the State's Graduated Driver License Law (GDL) to allow them time to gain experience and develop safe driving skills. In 2009, New York strengthened the provisions of its GDL laws, including requiring that a Junior Permit be held for six months before a road test can be taken, increasing the required supervised driving time for a permit holder, and reduced from two to one the number of non-family passengers under age 21 that are allowed in the vehicle of a Junior Driver.
DMV also helps parents monitor their teens driving through the Teen Electronic Event Notification Service (TEENS). This voluntary free service notifies the parent or guardian of a minor, under the age of 18, when a conviction, suspension, revocation or crash appears on the minor's driver license record, or if the minor receives a ticket. Parents can sign up for this service on the DMV website.