Driving a car means freedom, but it also comes with a great deal of responsibility and risk. For some teenagers, it can be difficult to fully appreciate that risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenage drivers are more likely than older drivers to make critical errors that result in serious crashes. For example, they are more likely to speed and less likely to keep a safe distance between vehicles. Young people ages 15 to 19 make up slightly more than 6 percent of the population. Yet, the CDC reports that in 2016, they were responsible for 8.4 percent ($13.6 billion) of total motor vehicle injury costs.
While teens present a greater danger behind the wheel than adults, more teens are taking preventive safety measures when they drive than ever before. In 1991, 25.9 percent of teens said they rarely wore their seat belt; today, that number is down to 5.9 percent. Similarly, drinking and driving among teens has improved over the years. From 2013 to 2017, the percentage of teens who said they drink and drive fell from 10 percent to 5.5 percent. Yet, it is important to note that teen drivers are more likely than older drivers to be involved in motor vehicle crashes when they do drink and drive.
Despite improvements in seat belt use and impaired driving, national data shows no significant change in the number of teens who said they text and drive. From 2013 to 2017, the percentage of teens who engaged in this behavior remained flat at approximately 40 percent.
At the state level, teen texting and driving shows a statistically significant positive correlation with teen motor vehicle fatalities by population. In general, states with more teens who text and drive also have more teens who die in motor vehicle accidents.
With these trends in mind, researchers at 360 Quote wanted to use these statistics to identify the states with the most dangerous teenage drivers. To do this, their researchers created a composite score for each state based on several metrics, including the percentage of teens who text and drive, the percentage of teens who drink and drive, the percentage of teens who rarely wear a seat belt, and the teen traffic fatality rate per 100k teens.
The study found that Texas teens are some of the most dangerous drivers in the U.S. In Texas, 39.3 percent of teens reported texting and driving, 7.1 percent of teens reported drinking and driving, and 7.1% reported rarely wearing a seatbelt. Considering these factors, the analysis ranked Texas teens the 13th most dangerous in the U.S.