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New teen drivers three times as likely to be involved in a deadly crash

News: 2017 Press Release

For Release: July 19, 2017
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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New teen drivers three times as likely to be involved in a deadly crash
Insurance Commissioner, AAA and ACIC join to discuss dangers of distracted driving
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Citing new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research about teens and distracted driving, The California Department of Insurance (CDI), AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah (AAA NCNU), California Highway Patrol (CHP), CSAA Insurance Group, and the ACIC, the California voice of Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, today warned that new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash.

"While the summer months represent a break from school for most teens, they also represent one of the deadliest time periods for teens drivers, who have the highest percentage of auto collisions of any drivers," Commissioner Jones said. "Statistics show teens are more likely to be involved in a crash causing significant injuries, which is devastating emotionally and also financially, as it can cause your insurance rates to nearly double."

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones joined driver safety experts, parents, and students at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento to urge teen drivers to stay safe behind the wheel and avoid risks that can lead to auto accidents. According to traffic safety experts, the summer driving season between Memorial Day and Labor Day represents the deadliest 100 days for teen drivers, as the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year. Over the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during this deadly period.

"Statistics show that our youngest drivers are at the highest risk, as teen crashes spike during the summer months because teens are out of school and on the road," said John Moreno, AAA NCNU manager of public affairs. "The AAA Foundation's research found inexperience paired with greater exposure on the road can create a deadly combination for teen drivers."

In Sacramento County during 2015, 13 teen drivers ages 16-17 years old were at fault in fatal crashes and another 800 were at fault in injury crashes, according to 2015 crash data from the CHP. The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) 2015 crash data, the latest data available. To reverse this alarming trend, parents are urged to help reduce the number of deadly crashes on the road by getting more involved and talking to their teens about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel.

"Parents play a pivotal role in keeping our roads safe because they are teens' first role models for safe driving behavior," said Paula Downey, president and CEO of CSAA Insurance Group, which provides
insurance to AAA members in Northern California. "By modeling good behavior – such as staying off the phone and buckling safety belts – adults help teens learn how to be safe drivers."

The National Safety Council recently announced that 2016 may have been the deadliest year on our roads since 2007. One of the most frightening trends is the ubiquitous use of smartphones behind the wheel. A prior AAA Foundation study found that teen drivers manipulating their cell phone (includes calling, texting or other uses), had their eyes off the road for an average of 4.1 out of the final six seconds leading up to a crash. The researchers also measured reaction times in rear-end crashes and found that teen drivers using a cell phone failed to react more than half of the time before the impact, meaning they crashed without braking or steering.

"The United States is seeing some of the largest increases in auto accidents in more than 50 years. California ranks in the top ten states with the biggest increase in accidents," said Armand Feliciano, ACIC vice president. "Social media apps and texting are powerful distractions to our teens driving during summer months."

To keep roads safer through the rest of the summer and beyond, California Department of Insurance, AAA NCNU, CSAA Insurance Group, the ACIC encourage parents to:
  • Have conversations with their teens early and often about distraction and speeding.
  • Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving.
  • Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
  • Look into pre-driving classes such as the AAA Dare to Prepare classes for parents and teens.
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Media notes:

Press contacts: CDI – Madison Voss 916-508-6015 (mobile)
CSAA Insurance Group – Jason Willett, 415-595-3306 (mobile)
AAA NCNU – John Moreno, 815-545-9313 (mobile)
ACIC – Nicole Mahrt-Ganley, 916-616-5855 (mobile)
CHP – Fran Clader, 916-843-3310
Impact Teen Drivers – Dr. Kelly Browning, 813-728-3998 (mobile)

Parents and teens can learn more about teen driver issues and California teen driver permit and licensing requirements by visiting

Three factors that commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers are: 
  • Distraction: Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smartphone.
  • Not Buckling Up: In 2015, the latest data available, 60 percent of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash.
  • Speeding: Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. A recent AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's latest study, Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age, analyzes crash rates per mile driven for all drivers and found that for every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 years old are:
  • 3.9 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash 
  • 2.6 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash 
  • 4.5 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a crash
  • 3.2 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a fatal crash 
About the California Department of Insurance

About AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah

About CSAA Insurance Group

About ACIC

About Impact Teen Driver

Michael's story is available for viewing.    

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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