Do you have a teenager who is ready to drive or already is behind the wheel?

With teens obtaining driver’s licenses during the summer more than any other season and an average of seven teens dying every day from motor vehicle injuries, a new report has been released on 2021’s Best & Worst States for Teen Drivers.

To determine the safest and least costly driving environments for U.S. teenagers, WalletHub compared the 50 states based on 23 key metrics. The data set ranges from the number of teen driver fatalities to the average cost of car repairs to the presence of impaired driving laws.

Here is an example and key findings for California:

Teenage Driving in California (1=Best; 25=Avg.):

  • 10th – Teen Driver Fatalities per 100,000 Teens
  • 23rd – Teen DUIs per 100,000 Teens
  • 50th – Avg. Cost of Car Repairs
  • 1st – Presence of Distracted-Driving/Texting-While-Driving Laws
  • 48th – Premium Increase After Adding Teen Driver to Parent’s Policy
  • 3rd – Provision of Teen Driver’s Graduated Licensing Program Laws
  • 9th – Vehicle Miles Traveled per Capita
  • 1st – Presence of Occupant-Protection Laws
  • 44th – Quality of Roads
  • 35th – Presence of Impaired-Driving Laws

Some experts weigh in on teens and driving below.

Should we increase the age at which an individual is eligible for a license to 18?

“Driving provides an opportunity for teens to increase autonomy and self-efficacy, which are important developmental goals before adulthood. Driving also improves the ability for teens in areas without public transportation to participate in the workforce, extracurricular activities, etc. As teens are seeking increased responsibility and self-sufficiency, one way to support their development is by allowing them to get their license, which provides independent mobility,” said
Sarah M. Tashjian, J.D., Ph.D., Postdoctoral Scholar in Affective Neuroscience, California Institute of Technology.

“I am against increasing the licensure age. As a parent of a recent teenage driver, I feel that driving under parents’ supervision is safer compared to on their own, which is more accessible when they started driving before 18. Driving is not a necessity for most high schoolers, which reduces the stress and allows them to learn to drive in relatively safe and familiar environments. Increasing the license age to 18 means they must go through the most dangerous phase of driving at college or while working, typically in a new environment,” added Feng Guo, Ph.D., and Professor at Virginia Tech.

What tips do you have for minimizing the costs (insurance, etc.) associated with having a teen driver in the household? 

“Explore the premium savings that insurance companies may have (discounts) for young drivers in the family/household (e.g., discounts for maintaining good grades, safe driver monitoring programs, etc.),” suggested Federico Vaca, MD, MPH and Professor at Yale University.

“Make sure that your teen driver takes all available training and educational programs that are available in your areas. In some states, these can benefit your insurance premiums. Some insurance programs also offer safe driver plans that include monitoring your vehicle for evidence of risky behavior like hard braking. Participating in those programs can also reduce premiums in some states,” according to David S. Hurwitz, Ph.D., FITE, and a Professor at Oregon State University.

What should policymakers do to increase the safety of teen drivers?

“Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) is effective in reducing teen driver crashes. Education and Training also reduce driving risks and accelerates teen drivers’ understanding of roadway risks and strategies to detect, anticipate, and mitigate these risks. A combination of sound GDL deployment and robust training and education will contribute greatly to increasing the safety of teen drivers,” echoed Anuj K. Pradhan, MS, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“Increase investment in public transportation, such as buses, transit trains, and railways, to reduce the use of private vehicles that are the most crash-prone and the least environment-friendly mode of transportation. Enhance and beef up the enforcement of state GDL laws,” said Guohua Li, MD, Ph.D., and Professor at Columbia University.

Source: WalletHub