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Study: Young drivers are most likely to be in fatal crashes

According to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teenage and young drivers are more likely than any other age group to be involved in fatal car accidents. The reasons for this increased risk are inexperience, distraction and a higher likelihood of engaging in high-risk behavior behind the wheel.

Specifically, the CDC reports that there were nearly 34,500 car accident deaths in the U.S. in 2009, of which people between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for almost one-fourth. For young drivers of that age group, there were 10.9 fatalities per every 100,000 people, which is close to the national average of 11.1 deaths per 100,000.

Although the CDC did not specifically investigate the reasons for the increased crash risk among teenage and young drivers, driver inexperience and distraction are believed to be primary causes. In addition, teens are more likely to drive at night and with more people in the car, two high-risk behaviors that significantly increase the crash risk for new drivers.

In recognition of teenagers' propensity to engage in these behaviors, many states have passed graduated license laws limiting when teens may drive and how many people may be in their vehicles, among other things. These laws have been successful - one study found that graduated licensing reduced car accident risk among 16-year-old drivers by as much as 16 percent. However, the new CDC study makes it clear that more needs to be done to protect teenagers and young adults, from both a legislative and a parental perspective.

If your teenage son or daughter has been injured or has lost their life in a car accident, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.

Source: CBS News, "CDC: Fatal car crash risk highest among young drivers," Ryan Jaslow, July 20, 2012

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