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GHSA study: Speeding looms more critical in teen driving deaths

By Bob Nagy on June 28, 2013 5:33 AM
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A new study by the non-profit Governors Highway Safety Association has found that speeding has become an even larger issue in the number of teen driving fatalities. Authored by Dr. Susan Ferguson, "Speeding-Related Fatal Crashes Among Teen Drivers and Opportunities for Reducing the Risks," claims the percentage of speeding-related deaths by individuals in this young-driver group increased from 30 percent to 33 percent between 2000 and 2011 -- a period in which total teen-age fatalities dramatically decreased.

Ferguson, a former senior VP of research for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, noted that no other age group has a higher likelihood of being involved in a speeding-related crash, and that while young drivers of both genders are impacted, males remain particularly at risk. "Speeding is more prevalent among teen males, at night, and in the presence of other teen passengers. When three or more teen passengers are in a vehicle driven by a 16-year-old male, almost half of their fatal crashes are speeding-related."

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The study, underwritten by a grant from State Farm Insurance, also presented suggestions to help mitigate the problem.  At the top of that list was more widespread acceptance of graduated driver licensing programs. By placing restrictions on young, newly licensed drivers --  particularly at night -- GDLs have proven to be extremely successful in improving overall teen driving safety statistics. State Farm Assistant Vice President, Public Affairs, Kellie Clapper, sees more focused GDL regulations as having even greater potential when it comes to helping save lives. Another recommendation involves the more extensive use of automated speed cameras to reduce the tendency to flagrantly exceed posted limits by drivers of all ages.

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Given the primary role parents need to play in helping influence behind-the-wheel behavior of teen drivers in their families, Ferguson's report also presented several tips for those facing this challenge. The first involves having serious discussions early on about the importance of observing all traffic laws -- and to demonstrate that precept by example -- while establishing family rules and consequences for breaking laws. In addition to making safety the primary consideration when selecting a car, teens should not be given primary access to any vehicle for at least their first year of independent driving. The study further recommends that parents consider the fitment of in-vehicle speed monitoring devices that are becoming increasingly available as original equipment or as aftermarket accessories, and consider participating in incentive-based insurance programs that use similar types of devices to monitor vehicle usage, braking/acceleration, and/or speed. The complete "Speeding-Related Fatal Crashes Among Teen Drivers and Opportunities for Reducing the Risks" study can be found at www.ghsa.org.

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