The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), in partnership with Ford Motor Company Fund, today released a new report that examines the significant role speeding plays in teen driver fatalities and offers practical tools to help parents rein in this lethal driving habit. The new analysis for GHSA found that from 2015 to 2019, teen drivers and passengers (16-19 years of age) accounted for a greater proportion of speeding-related fatalities (43%) than all other age groups (30%). During this five-year period, 4,930 teen drivers and passengers died in speeding-related crashes.
The report, Teens and Speeding: Breaking the Deadly Cycle, is the first look in recent years at the role speeding plays in teen driver deaths and incorporates recently released data that includes state-by-state statistics. It sheds new light on what we know about speeding-related fatal crashes involving teens –- the driver is more likely to be male, have run off the road or rolled the vehicle, and be unbuckled. The data analysis was conducted by Richard Retting of Sam Schwartz Consulting.
While the report includes data through 2019, the new analysis of teen driving deaths is timely as overall traffic crashes have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic and speeding on less-crowded than normal roadways is cited by states as a major factor in the surge in motor vehicle deaths. Parents may also have less time to spend training their teen drivers given other priorities during the pandemic.
The GHSA report also notes the risk of a teen driver being involved in a speeding-related fatal crash rises exponentially with each additional passenger in the vehicle. This is a worrying situation as more teens eager to see their friends may drive around together as COVID-19 vaccines become more readily available. These dangerous conditions were unfortunately demonstrated earlier this month, when seven Michigan teens between the ages of 17 and 19 were hospitalized when the teen driver left the roadway and rolled the vehicle. Speed was a factor and the crash happened late at night.
“Our country has a speeding problem that has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “Thousands of people die needlessly on our roads because some drivers mistakenly think less traffic means they can speed and nothing bad will happen. The data tell us that teen drivers are the most likely to be tempted to speed, so the need to address this issue is more critical than ever given traffic death trends during the pandemic.”