The leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers is motor vehicle accidents. More than 5,000 of our teens die each year in crashes. For the purpose of this topic, “teenagers” encompasses ages ranging from 15- to 20-year-olds. I am proposing legislation to address this issue.
According to national teen driving statistics, 16-year-olds, in particular, are 3 (three) times more likely to die in a crash than the average of all drivers, and they have higher crash rates than any other age group. In 2008; 81% of teenage crash deaths were passenger vehicle occupants, 31% of teenage drivers killed had been drinking alcohol, 55% were not buckled up, and 37% of male teenage drivers involved in fatalities were speeding. Teenagers who drink and drive have a greater risk of serious crashes than older drivers with equal blood alcohol concentrations. Teens do not wear seat/safety belts as much as adults. Teens tend to take more risks due to overconfidence in their abilities. These risks include: speeding, tailgating (driving too close to the vehicle in front), running red lights, violating traffic signals and signs, illegal turns, dangerous passing, and failure to yield to pedestrians.
Statistics show 16- to 17-year-old driver death rates increase with each additional passenger, which is due to distracted driving. Taking your eyes off the road for 2 (two) seconds, at 60 mph, means you have driven blindly for half the length of a football field. The risk of fatality is 3.6 times higher, when they are driving with passengers than when alone. For many years, the correlation between driving behavior and age has interested highway safety researchers and administrators. It is general knowledge that the greatest risk of motor vehicle crashes is among teenage drivers.
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, the rate of crashes per mile driven for 16-year-olds is about 10 times higher than the rate for drivers ages 30 to 59. Several industrialized countries, including Europe and elsewhere, have a driving age of 17 or 18. Brain and auto safety experts argue that 16-year-olds are too immature to handle today’s cars and roadway risks.
At the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in Bethesda, Maryland, new findings from brain researchers explain why efforts to protect the youngest drivers usually fail. The "executive branch" of a teenager’s brain is the weak link. It is the part that weighs risks, makes judgments and controls impulsive behavior.
Scientists at the NIH have found this vital area develops through teenage years and does not fully mature until the age of 25. One younger teen’s brain might be more developed than a slightly older ones, just as a younger teen might be taller than an older one. However, evidence is mounting that, in general, a 16-year-olds brain is far less developed than those of slightly older teens.
The problem is a biological one. A crucial part of a teen’s brain – the one that considers...