A recent study notes that, despite significant declines in crash and mortality rates among drivers under 21, young drivers remain the most dangerous group on the road.
According to a non-profit organization of state highway safety agencies, using statistics from 2002 to 2021, fatal crashes involving a young driver decreased by 38%, while deaths of young drivers decreased even more, by roughly 45%.
Deaths and fatal collisions both increased by 11% for drivers older than 21. The research from the Governors Highway Safety Association agrees that fewer teenagers are driving now than they did 20 years ago, but it also lists numerous other factors that have contributed to the improvement and makes suggestions for enhancing those factors.
At the top of the list were state initiatives that gradually increased driving privileges. These initiatives, often known as graduated drivers license legislation, frequently forbid or limit particular behaviors among teenagers, such as driving at night or with friends.
The GHSA recommends bolstering those initiatives and perhaps extending them to include drivers between the ages of 18 and 20, like Maryland and New Jersey do.
Other suggestions include increasing the involvement of adults and parents in their children’s driving education, expanding peer-to-peer education initiatives, and making driver training available to everyone.
According to Pam Shadel Fischer, author of the GHSA research, “young drivers are the riskiest age group on the road, and the reasons are straightforward—immaturity and inexperience.”
Many new drivers simply lack the driving experience necessary to identify risks and take the necessary precautions to avoid collisions.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission reports that overall traffic deaths have decreased for five straight quarters after a pandemic increase, falling 3.3% in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.
Government officials at the time referred to the 42,795 fatalities on American roads in 2022 as a national calamity.
The GHSA analysis found that, with the exception of three states and the District of Columbia, the rate of young driver crash fatalities decreased over the previous 20 years.