Like any other drivers, teenagers face a variety of risks when they get behind the wheel – especially if they drink and drive, speed, or fail to use a seat belt.
But, surprisingly, the biggest risk factor for teenage drivers is driving after dark, according to a recent study conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute.
Researchers who studied traffic fatality rates found that despite an overall drop in traffic deaths, nighttime fatalities actually increased. A closer look at the numbers revealed that among drivers over the age of 20, alcohol was to blame for the proportional increase in deaths, but that wasn’t the case for teen drivers. The fatal crash rate of 16-year-olds is nearly twice as high at night.
So, what accounted for the rise in teen nighttime traffic deaths? Researchers pointed to one other crucial factor – The huge surge in cell phone use by teenagers.
Today’s teenagers, having grown up with cell phones, are often so comfortable with a cell phone in their hands that they can develop a false sense of security and figure they can easily text or talk on a cell phone while driving. In fact, 48% of teen respondents say they talk on a cell phone or text, at least sometimes, while driving. Unfortunately, that’s a decision that leads to disastrous consequences.