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The Leading Cause of Death Among Teens

By Gerald Connor
The Leading Cause of Death Among Teens

Car crashes are the leading cause of death and severe injury among teens. Fortunately, car accidents involving teen drivers are preventable. Teen drivers are at a higher risk of getting into a fatal accident because of distractions, inexperience, risk-taking behaviors.

Teen Deaths and Injuries from Crashes on the Rise

A recent report from the CDC shows that the accidental death rate for 10 to 19-year olds rose by 12 percent between 2013 and 2016 after a previous 33 percent decline. About 62 percent of these deaths were caused by car accidents.

During 2016, 292,742 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries from car crashes, and 2,433 were killed. An average of six teens die every day from car accidents, and hundreds more are injured, leading to almost $13.6 billion in total losses.

Top Causes of Teen Car Accidents

Several factors make teens more at risk of getting killed or injured in an accident, including:

  • Inexperience. Teen drivers with less than two years of driving experience are at most risk of getting into an accident. Many inexperienced drivers are unable to recognize and react to dangerous situations.
  • Distracted driving. Teens are more likely to engage in behaviors that take their attention and eyes off the road. This could include talking on their phones, changing radio stations, or paying attention to their passengers.
  • Texting and driving. Despite laws making it illegal, teens continue to engage in texting and using social media while driving, which is a leading cause of serious car crashes.
  • Speeding and reckless driving. In 35 percent of teen car crashes, the driver was speeding when the accident occurred. Other reckless behaviors include tailgating, street racing, and making lane changes or illegal turns.
  • Teen passengers in the car. Talking to or reacting to teen passengers is distracting. It also increases the risk of the driver engaging in unsafe practices, such as reckless driving or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Not wearing a seatbelt. Seat belts can significantly reduce the risk of serious and fatal injuries in a car accident. However, only about half of high school students surveyed report using a seatbelt.