The impact of teen driver crashes extends far beyond the teen drivers and their families and friends, according to a new national report released by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Cos.
In 2008, 681,000 people were involved in crashes where a teen driver was behind the wheel. More than 40,000 were injured and almost 30 percent of those who died were not in cars driven by teens.
"When most people think about those affected by teen driver crashes, they think of the teens behind the wheel. We must also consider the significant impact of these crashes on other members of our communities: occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and other road-users," report co-author Dr. Dennis Durbin said in a media statement. "Whether we have a teen driver in our family or not, we should all care about this issue."
Durbin is co-scientific director of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Based on federal data, the report establishes 11 indicators to help policymakers and safety practitioners gauge progress in efforts to improve teen driving safety. Researchers say the most important calls-to action are reducing speeding and alcohol use, increasing seat belt use and eliminating distracted driving.
More teens die from car crashes than from cancer, homicide and suicide combined, but the report authors emphasize that teen fatalities are "the tip of the iceberg." Thousands more suffer injuries and psychological trauma.
The research provides evidence to support stronger graduated driver licensing laws and increased parent involvement in driver training, according to State Farm.
Car insurance rates are high for teen drivers because of their increased risks for accidents.