Insta-CoGo: Teens and Car Crashes
While no one can calculate the sorrow caused by teen crashes, a first-ever analysis released last week by AAA finds that crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 17 cost American society more than $34 billion annually in medical expenses, lost work, property damage loss and other related costs in 2006.
Drivers 15-17 were involved in about 974,000 crashes in 2007, injuring 406,427 people and killing 2,541, the study found.
There is a proven means of reducing those numbers. States that ease new drivers onto the road by imposing a variety of restrictions -- like restricting driving late at night, and not allowing new drivers to drive other teens -- see decreases in the carnage. The system is called "graduated driver licensing."
Maryland, D.C. and Virginia all have some but not all of the seven elements of a graduated license system advocated by AAA. In fact, they've been pushing hard for more restrictions and were hopeful to get new measures passed by the Maryland state legislature this session. Instead, the legislature just decided to study the issue this summer.
Instead of making lobbyists fight this issue state by state, how about some federal intervention? The feds already withhold road funding from states that refuse to make the use of seat belts a primary offense -- meaning police can stop a driver for not using a seat belt even if there is no other cause. Why not say, use a proven system to save teen lives, or you don't get federal dollars?
By Cindy Loose |
April 15, 2008; 6:24 AM ET
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