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Vehicle Crashes are the Leading Cause of Death for Teenagers

As temperatures steadily improve this Spring, Missourians are spending more time outdoors and driving to outdoor destinations. The Missouri Primary Care Association wants to remind you that vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Missouri teenagers. In fact, The Missouri Department of Insurance recommends that anyone responsible for a teenager take time to discuss with them the rules of the road, and the offers advice for talking about driving safety on its MO Eyes on the Road website.

Fortunately, these accidents and their associated injuries and fatalities can often be prevented. Before you take to the road this summer or hand a teenager the keys, take time to review these facts about common risks facing teen drivers, courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • On average, teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations, not be able to recognize hazardous situations and to make critical decision errors that lead to serious crashes.

  • Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and follow too closely. The presence of male teenage passengers is known to increase the likelihood of this risky driving behavior.

  • In 2014, 50% of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight. 53% of those crashes occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

  • Compared with other age groups, teens have among the lowest rates of seat belt use. In 2015, only 61% of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else.

  • Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in 2014, 36% were speeding at the time of the crash and 24% had been drinking.

  • In a national survey conducted in 2015, 20% of teens reported that, within the previous month, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. Among students who drove, 8% reported having driven after drinking alcohol, themselves, within that same one-month period.

  • In 2014, 64% of drivers aged 15 to 20 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes after drinking and driving were not wearing a seat belt.

It should be noted that young drivers with ADHD occupy an even higher risk category than other

teenagers, according to the National Resource Center on ADHD, due largely to the core symptoms of distractibility, inattention and impulsivity.

Missouri’s Community Health Centers provide medical, behavioral health and dental services that are available if you’ve been injured or have health-related questions. These clinics are open to all residents, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Check out the Missouri Primary Care Association website to find a Community Health Center near you.

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