Inexperience behind the wheel, immaturity and not enough parental involvement contribute to a higher risk of deadly vehicle accidents among teenage drivers, experts say.
3,000 teenagers are killed each year in car crashes nationwide, making
it the leading cause of death for 13- to 19-year-olds, according to the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Statistics show that teenage
drivers, especially young men, are more likely than older age groups to
be involved in fatal car collisions.
biggest mistake parents make is underestimating how much practice teens
need, said John Ulczycki, a teen-driving expert with the National
"If you have not spent at least 50 hours driving with your kid, your kid is probably not a safe driver," he said.
Parents also tend to emphasize the wrong skills, such as parallel parking.
Instead, parents should focus on making sure teens learn to scan the road ahead for hazards, he said.
Neset, owner of Roger's Driving School in Tomkins Cove, said it's also
up to parents to determine whether their children are ready for the
He sees a range of behavior among the teenagers he teaches.
are some 16-year-olds that are very mature. They make smart decisions,"
he said. "Then I get the opposite: There are 16-year-olds that I have
to tell five times to slow down."
Neset said the young men he has encountered over the years tend to be more aggressive drivers than the young women.
has real consequences: Of the 3,023 teens killed in car crashes in the
U.S. in 2011, roughly two thirds were male, according to the Insurance
Tina and Rick Blank are constantly reminded of what
their son, Michael, could have achieved if he hadn't died in a car crash
Michael Blank, then 16, was driving home alone from a
friend's house on Christmas night when he lost control of his parents'
car and struck a utility pole. Police said he was driving 84 mph when he
crashed and suffered a fatal brain injury.
"It didn't have to happen - and that is what's so sad," said Tina Blank.
Nickens, a 16-year-old from Stony Point who recently received his
junior license, said he doesn't fit the stereotype of a reckless teen
"There are good drivers and bad drivers, no matter what
age group," he said. "Experience helps, but not all 16-year-olds are bad
Nickens considers himself a responsible driver, thanks in part to his mother's strict enforcement of his junior license rules.
have been a couple times I missed curfew, and my mom says I can't drive
the next day," he said. Teens also need to use good judgment when it
comes to being the passenger, he said.
"It's about knowing the
person you are going to get in the car with," he said. "If you know they
are irresponsible, you shouldn't get into the car with them."