Table of Contents
In the USA, the leading cause of death among teenagers is car crashes. In 2010, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tells us, a total of 3,115 Americans aged 13 to 19 died in auto wrecks. One out of three deaths of teenage girls and two out of five deaths of teenage boys occurred cars, and in at least 1,000 of the deadly car crashes in that year, a drunk driver was behind the wheel. But the greater danger to teens from alcohol, a new survey from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) tells us, is homicide or suicide, which claim at least 2,000 teenage lives every year.
If there's anything we know for sure about teens, alcohol, and their parents, it's that parents of teens who have drinking problems are usually the last to know. MADD researchers have found that 1 in 5 American teens indulges in binge drinking, but only 1 in 100 parents is aware of their teen's binge drinking. The overall picture of teens, alcohol, and driving itself is shocking:
- There are over 350,000 crashes (fatal and non-fatal) involving drunk drivers every year in the USA alone.
- If all 17,000,000 Americans who admitted to driving drunk (to surveyors, not to the police) in 2011 had their own state, it would be the fifth largest behind California, Texas, New York, and Florida.
- In 2011, the most recent year for which there are statistics, a total of 9,878 Americans were killed as drunk drivers or by drunk drivers.
- The majority of fatal car crashes occur on weekends.
- One in three Americans will be involved in a car crash with a drunk driver or as a drunk driver at some time in their lives.
- 16-year-olds (who typically have just received their driver's licenses) have the highest crash rate of any age group among American drivers.
- Among teenagers who died in a car crash in 2011, 59% were killed when a teenager was driving. Among Americans of all age groups who died in car crashes in 2011, 17% were killed when a teenager was driving.
- The crash rate per mile is twice as high for 16- and 17-year-old drivers as it is for 18- and 19-year-old drivers.
- Statistics show that for each additional passenger in the car when a 16- or 17-year-old is driving, driver death rates go up.
- One in 10 teens who dies as the result of drunk driving was a pedestrian at the time of the crash.
- In 2006, the latest year for which statistics are available, the cumulative medical costs of treating injuries caused in crashes of cars with teenaged drivers was $34 billion. In 2011, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates, the average American paid $500 in additional auto insurance premiums to account for accidents caused by teenage drivers.
But the most shocking statistics are those that show that most deaths involving teens and drinking have nothing to do with car crashes.