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Speeches

Keynote Remarks for National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) - Teen Distracted Driving Prevention Summit, Washington, DC
Robert L. Sumwalt
Keynote Remarks for National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) - Teen Distracted Driving Prevention Summit, Washington, DC
12/3/2012

TEEN DRIVER SAFETY

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers; more young people die in crashes every year than from suicide, drugs, violence, and alcohol – combined.
  • In the last decade, more than 58,000 young people aged 15-20 died in traffic crashes – 110 each week.
  • A teen driver with one passenger doubles the risk of being involved in a fatal car crash. With two or more passengers, the risk increases to three times as likely.
  • Although all states have a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system, many do not have vital components such as a passenger or cell-phone restriction. Research indicates that the more GDL provisions in place, the greater effect on reducing crashes and deaths involving young drivers.
  • The NTSB continues to call for states to improve their GDL programs by directly addressing these deficiencies. States should add passenger restrictions, cell phone restrictions, and provisions addressing minimum driving practice and minimum holding periods.
  • Driver distraction is clearly a problem, particularly among young drivers. Drivers need to be focused on the driving task at hand.

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN STUDY NOVEMBER 2012

  • In general, parents who engage in distracting behaviors have teens who engage in distracting behaviors more frequently.
  • Parents may underestimate how much their teens text while driving. More than a quarter of teens (26 percent) read or send a text message at least once every time they drive versus the one percent of parents who said their teen does this.
  • Cell Phone Use by Teen Drivers Is Similar to Parents: More than half of teens (54 percent) report that they use a hand-held cell phone while driving, similar to the six in ten parents (61 percent) who report that they do so.
  • Texting While Driving Remains Pervasive: A quarter of teens (24 percent) respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. Nearly one in three teens (30 percent) read a text or email once or more every time they drive. Almost one in ten parents (9 percent) respond to a text once or more every time they drive, while 13 percent of them read a text or email once or more while driving. Perhaps even more alarming, one in five teens (20 percent) and one in ten parents (10 percent) admit that they have extended multi-message text conversations while driving.
  • Digital and Social Media Are Significant Driving Distractions for Teens: Teens search for music on a portable music player, such as an iPod, four-and-a-half times more frequently than parents do while driving. More than half of teens (53 percent) say they do so, while just 12 percent of parents do. More than one in ten teens, or 11 percent, say that they update or check social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, while driving.
  • Teens Regularly Drive with Young Passengers Despite Serious Risks: Nearly three-quarters of teens (69 percent) say they drive with two or three teen passengers and no adults in their car, which, according to a study by the AAA Foundation, is associated with a doubling of the driver's risk of being killed in a crash. Almost half of teens (44 percent) do so with more than three teen passengers and no adults, which is associated with a quadrupling of a driver's risk of being killed. Additionally, half of teens (50 percent) say that they deal with passengers while driving. Nearly one in three teens (30 percent) say they do this at least once a trip or more.

DISTRACTION

  • "Eliminate Distraction in Transportation" is on this year's NTSB Most Wanted List.
  • In our first distraction investigation, a young driver, who was talking on her cell phone crossed a median, flipped her car over, and landed on top of a minivan. As a result, five people were killed. Since that 2002 crash, we have investigated 3 additional highway accidents (Alexandria, Munfordville, Gray Summit) involving distraction as well as 2 rail accidents (Clarendon, Chatsworth), 1 marine accident (Philadelphia), and 1 aviation incident (Minneapolis over flight) in which the use of a portable electronic device was a cause or contributing factor.
  • In younger populations, such as teen drivers, distraction is particularly a problem. These drivers are inexperienced and have enough difficulty navigating the roadways without distraction. The added demand of carrying teen passengers or using a cell phone while driving only increases the chance of a crash.