Speed top factor in crashes involving teens

Speed kills. And when it does too often it involves a young driver under the age of 18.

After a review of state crash data, AAA is advising North Dakota parents to talk to their teens about the dangers of speed and how any change in driving conditions can dictate a slower safe speed.

According to North Dakota data, from 2011 to 2015 teen drivers between 14 and 17 years old were involved in 8.6 percent of fatal crashes where speed was identified as a contributing factor.  The same age group was involved in 10 percent of injury crashes attributed to speed. Driving too fast for conditions was also a common factor in teen crashes. As they comprised only 2.8 percent of licensed drivers, teen drivers under age 18 were more than three times as likely to be involved in a speed-related crash as older drivers.

Due in part to inexperience, teens are more likely to misjudge their abilities and such critical factors as closing speeds, braking distance, changing driving conditions and headlight effectiveness, according to Gene LaDoucer, North Dakota spokesman for AAA-The Auto Club Group.

“Driving is a highly complex task learned in a high-risk environment,” said LaDoucer. “High speeds and changing driving conditions add risk,” said LaDoucer. “While more experienced drivers may make necessary adjustments, teens too often don’t appreciate the dangers until it’s too late.”

An example of critical knowledge is the effective range of headlights, advises AAA. Recent test results found that even with the most advanced headlight systems under ideal weather conditions, the ability to see an object in the roadway at night is reduced by as much as 60 percent when compared to driving in daylight. On high beam, headlights provide adequate lighting for maximum speeds of 48 mph to 55 mph, according to the study.

“Teens are overrepresented in crashes in North Dakota and speed is the top contributing factor. We must all understand the risks and do our parts in helping them develop into safe and responsible drivers,” said LaDoucer.

For more information on teen driver safety, visit www.teendriving.aaa.com and www.ndcodefortheroad.org.


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