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New Ford Study Finds That More Teen Drivers Are Dying On U.S. Roads

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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), in partnership with Ford Motor Company Fund, has released a new report that examines the significant role speeding plays in teen drivers and fatalities and offers practical tools to help parents rein in this lethal driving habit.

The new analysis from GHSA found that from 2015 to 2019, teen drivers and passengers (16-19 years of age) accounted for a greater proportion of speeding-related fatalities (43 percent) than all other age groups (30 percent). During this five-year period, 4,930 teen drivers and passengers died in speeding-related crashes.

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The report, Teens and Speeding: Breaking the Deadly Cycle, is the first look in recent years at the role speeding plays in teen driver deaths and incorporates recently released data that includes state-by-state statistics. It sheds new light on what we know about speeding-related fatal crashes involving teens – the driver is more likely to be male, have run off the road or rolled the vehicle, and be unbuckled. The data analysis was conducted by Richard Retting of Sam Schwartz Consulting.

While the report includes data through 2019, the new analysis of teen driving deaths is timely as overall traffic crashes have spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, and speeding on less-crowded than normal roadways is cited by states as a major factor in the surge in motor vehicle deaths. Parents may also have less time to spend training their teen drivers given other priorities during the pandemic.

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The GHSA report also notes the risk of a teen driver being involved in a speeding-related fatal crash rises exponentially with each additional passenger in the vehicle. These dangerous conditions were unfortunately demonstrated earlier this month when seven Michigan teens between the ages of 17 and 19 were hospitalized when the teen driver left the roadway and rolled the vehicle. Speed was a factor and the crash happened late at night.

“Our country has a speeding problem that has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “Thousands of people die needlessly on our roads because some drivers mistakenly think less traffic means they can speed and nothing bad will happen. The data tell us that teen drivers are the most likely to be tempted to speed, so the need to address this issue is more critical than ever given traffic death trends during the pandemic.”

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The GHSA report identifies real-world, practical tools along with technology that parents can leverage to help rein in speeding teens, as well as re-evaluate their own driving behaviors. The latter is critical since speeding is typically passed down from parent to child. Surprisingly, one technology solution is a teen’s cell phone, which parents can use to track speeding, hard braking, and other actions via apps.

In-vehicle technology, particularly systems that allow parents to limit a vehicle’s top speed, can also help. Other tools discussed in the report include driver education and training, speed enforcement, graduated driver licensing laws, parent-teen orientation sessions and driving agreements, and peer-to-peer programming. All provide opportunities to address teen speeding.

For nearly 20 years, GHSA and Ford Motor Company Fund have worked together to address teen driver safety through the award-winning Ford Driving Skills for Life program. A signature program of the Ford Fund, Ford Driving Skills for Life has invested more than $60 million to provide free, advanced driver education to more than 1.25 million newly licensed drivers in all 50 U.S. states and 46 countries worldwide since 2003.

“Speed management continues to be a key component of our training and this report reaffirms its importance,” said Jim Graham, Ford Motor Company Fund Manager. “Teens don’t see speeding as a serious problem and parents likely don’t recognize how rampant it is for novice drivers, so teaching them about the impact is critical.”

We’ll have more on Ford’s efforts to improve road safety soon, so be sure and subscribe to Ford Authority for 24/7 Ford news coverage.

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Written by Brett Foote

Brett's lost track of all the Fords he's owned over the years and how much he's spent modifying them, but his current money pits include an S550 Mustang and 13th gen F-150.

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4 Comments

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  1. It all begins at home as many of us have heard for decades. Having raised two children successfully to adulthood…and certainly not without accident issues along the way as we were gradually dolling out independent driving freedoms. Thankfully, non were serious and didn’t involve a second party. I don’t find the cell phone distraction issue surprising, as this was the reason for one incident, seatbelt use however is a bit more vexing.

    Both my wife and I have noticed these increased speeds recently also, and seemingly in more cases than not? And not just by a mere 10 MPH above the posted limited, well above!

    I’m certainly not innocent of doing stupid things in cars when I was a teen…thankfully, non ended in personal or property damage. Being a graduate of Skip Barber Racing School, and currently participating in regular track day events, I think those of us who drive at speeds in the reasonably controlled environs on a race track after proper training have an appreciation for vehicle limitations as a nature of examining extremes, which the average driver simply doesn’t.

    Add to this the far more unpredictable nature of driving on public roads even at posted limits and it’s not difficult to understand why this trend is increasingly un-nerving.

    We did have both of our children attend driving school, which I believed helped instill or at least reinforce situational awareness that seems to waning with parental instruction these days. Plus, having a non-family member who is a professional, reinforcing positive habits, seems to frame lessons in a more serious light as well as providing potentially a different perspective.

    Thanks Brette for putting this issue into the public sphere. I thought what I was seeing was annoying, but had no idea it was this bad…and seemingly getting worse!

  2. It’s funny, I’ve been hearing this same sales pitch over and over since I’ve started driving back in 2003. Teen drivers are a risk, teen driving fatalities are at all all time high because of high speed driving and everything else, it’s like a broken record. The real problem is distracted driving. You’re telling me that with all of the technology in cars such as stability control, collision detection and avoidance, blind spot monitoring and all of the other nannies that cars have that are catered to teen drivers and we’re still at an all time high? Something isn’t adding up. I hate stats and numbers because they’re never right and they’re always used to push a government backed agenda. You want to lessen teen accidents? have a teen driver setting that sends a blocking signal to deactivate cell phone use while in the car and also limit the car’s speed to 50mph and limit horsepower out put to somewhere around 80hp, control throttle input since throttle bodies are all electronically controlled, control transmission shift points, limit radio volume to 30%, have the body control module keep the seat at a 90-degree angle, increase Jr license age to 25 and have people under the age of 25 be required to take driver’s safety courses once a year until they reach the age of 25. Restrict Junior drivers from the highway and have the curfew for Jr Drivers between the hours of 10pm-6am and any Junior drivers out past that time will have their licenses revoked until they reach the age of 25. Cars should be equipped with a slot that will read the license and set up the car properly and also display a notification on the dash of license and car information such as a warning when the license and registration is getting close to expiration and other info.

  3. There is no way to know for sure, but how many of the teen deaths and injuries occur among those whose parent(s) are complacent or apathetic about driver education? I would bet that the proportion of those killed is pretty small among those whose parents are actively involved in all aspects of their children’s lives. Nurturing, not smothering or “grounding for life.” The same with teen drug deaths, teen pregnancy; lack of accountability and compassion for one’s own offspring.

    “They learn all that stuff in school. I ain’t gotta say nuthin’.”

  4. Nice smoke screen, Ford. The new Edge has a standard 12-inch touchscreen with Apple and Android capabilities so teens can text and update social media while driving. If you were really concerned about safety, you’d have smartphone blocking technology in cars instead. Props to your PR department though for this spin.

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