Traffic Accidents: Number One Cause Of Texas Teen DeathsJune 29, 2011
According to reports, traffic accidents remain the leading cause of death to American teenagers. Sources say teens were behind the wheel in 366 fatal collisions in Texas during 2009. Further, an average of 422 U.S. teens die in traffic accidents each month during the summer. Sources say the rest of the year that average falls to 363 deaths per month.
According to some experts, teenage characteristics like a need for independence, head strong rebellion and camaraderie with friends put teen drivers most at risk for being involved in a fatal auto-accident. Sources say some of the most prevalent factors which lead to teenage fatalities are driving at night, distractions in the vehicle like cell phones and friends, driving at high speeds, not wearing seat belts and alcohol use. However, sources say that alcohol is a factor in less than 15% of the fatal crashes for teenagers ages 15 and 16.
According to the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), a 2010 study found that fatal night time crashes between 1999 and 2008 increased at a higher rate for teenagers than any other age group. TTI believes there could be a correlation with other research which shows the rates of cell phone ownership and use among teens is going up faster than any group. TTI’s research shows the combination of cellphones and night time driving creates a uniquely dangerous situation for teenagers.
In Texas, training an individual to drive begins with driver’s education. State officials say anyone under 18 who wants a driver’s license must first get a learner’s permit for six months and take a state-approved course that includes classroom instruction plus supervised driving time. Reportedly, less than two years ago driver’s education in Texas required teens to only clock 14 hours of supervised time in motor vehicle. Sources say that of the 14 hours required only half were required to actually be behind the wheel.
The Less Tears More Years Act of 2009 increased the minimum number of driving-instruction hours to 34. Sources say parents or legal guardians must administer the extra 20 hours, and half of that time must include practice at night.