Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Teen Drivers with Teen Passengers at Greater Risk

A recent study conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that the more teen passengers a teen driver had in the car, the riskier the driving and the greater potential for them to be involved in a serious accident.

Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers, and parents need to be aware of the potential for their teen to be hurt -- or even killed -- in a car full of young people, whether they're driving or not.


The AAA Foundation found that speeding among teens alone in their car occurred 30% of the time. This rate increased to 44% when the teen driver had two teen passengers, and 48% with three or more teens in the vehicle.

Late-Night Driving

Also, teens who got behind the wheel late at night (from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.) increased from only 17% when they were alone, to 22 percent with two teen passengers, and to 28% with three or more teens in the car with the driver. Numerious studies have shown that driving at night is considerably more dangerous than driving during daylight hours.


Alcohol also was more prevalent with other teens in the car. When a teen was driving alone, alcoholic beverages were present 13% of the time, but with two teen passengers, the rate went up to 17%, and 18% with three or more passengers under 20 years old.

"Mixing young drivers with teen passengers can have dangerous consequences," says Dave Overstreet, public affairs director for AAA Washington. "AAA urges parents to set and consistently enforce family rules that limit newly licensed teens from driving with young passengers."

Recent legislation in numerous states, including Washington, has restricted new teen drivers from carrying passengers under 20 years old. This, combined with more active parental control, will hopefully result in reduced teen accidents and fatalities.

Source: AAA of Washington

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New 'Good Samaritan' Law Protects Underage Drinkers

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed legislation that protects underage drinkers who call 911 for help by removing the fear of prosecution.

Washington joins 11 other states who have passed the so-called alcohol-related "Good Samaritan" laws. Colorado was the first state to approve the legislation in 2005. Six other states are currently working on passing a version of the policy.

Binge drinking is popular with underage kids.
Recent alcohol-related deaths are the impetus for the state legislation. Kenny Hummel, an 18-year-old Washington State University student, died in October 2012 after being found comatose in a WSU dorm room. His blood alcohol level was measured at .4 percent, which is five times the legal limit. His parents helped push the measure through the legislature, which offers protection from prosecution to underage drinkers who are in need of medical assistance.

Critics contend that passing this law only encourages underage drinking, by taking away the threat of prosecution to minors illegally drinking alcohol. Advocates, however, counter that it's better to allow minors who have been involved in binge drinking to get the medical attention they need, rather than dying from alcohol poisoning.

Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, who sponsored the legislation, stressed that underage drinking is not being encouraged, but the goal was to prevent unnecessary deaths from alcohol poisoning.  "We want young people to know that when they call 911, the only thing that's going to come is help," he said. "Not trouble."

The legislation was supported by the Liquor Control Board, the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, among others.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Teen Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes Often Take Others With Them

Teenage drivers are involved in a considerably higher rate of accidents than older drivers due to a number of factors, most notably their inexperience, speeding and being distracted while driving. While that growing statistic is alarming, what is tragic is the number of young lives cut short by the fatal accidents they are involved in. Even more devastating is the fact that frequently these young drivers take others with them when they are involved in a deadly vehicle crash.

The most recent figures available from the Institute of Highway Safety reflect this, and point to the fact that restricting passengers in teen driver's cars will help lower the death toll on our highways.

In 2008, Washington state had 34 drivers aged 15 to 20-years-old killed in auto accidents. But, also killed in those accidents were 21 passengers who were in the car, 17 occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash, and five people who weren't even in a car. That's 77 lives that were lost in one year involving teenage drivers in our state!

And Washington state isn't even one of the worst states for fatal teen accidents, ranking only 24th in 2008. Texas gets that grim distinction, with a total of 650 people dying in accidents that year involving teenage drivers. California was a close second, with 593 deaths.

In the United States in 2008, 6,428 people were killed in accidents involving teen drivers, with 2,739 of those young drivers dying in the accidents.

With those ghastly statistics in mind, legislators around the country have tightened restrictions on young drivers in an attempt to stem the carnage on U.S. highways.

For a complete list, by state, click here.

Source: National Institute of Highway Safety