Reader’s Digest Reports on the Best and Worst States for Teen Drivers in First-Ever Analysis

2008-07-17 11:07:00

       Alarming Statistics Detail Scourge of Teen Driving Fatalities

  Magazine Urges Readers to Demand Stricter State Laws, Teach Teens Better

            Skills; More Details at http://www.readersdigest.com



    PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y., July 17 /EMWNews/ -- Car crashes are

the number one killer of teens in the United States with July being the

deadliest month. Each year, more than 5,000 teenagers die on America's

roadways, but these deaths do not need to happen. Shocking statistics,

revealed in a new report in the August issue of Reader's Digest, on sale

July 22, highlight the risks teen drivers pose to themselves and others and

the desperate need for states to pass stricter laws regulating teen

drivers. As the report shows, more stringent laws usually result in fewer

fatalities.



    Reader's Digest ranked all 50 states based on their laws in three

areas: graduated driver licensing, which imposes certain restrictions on

teens before they are fully licensed; seat belt use; and DUI (driving under

the influence). Complete rankings, as well as the methodology used in the

report and other information, are available at

http://www.readersdigest.com/teendriving . The report also includes a

ranking of states based on teen driving fatalities.



    States were categorized as Best, Good, Fair or Worst. According to the

report, the three states considered best for teen driving safety are:

Alaska, California and Delaware. Among the worst are Montana, Mississippi

and Arkansas, which also rank among the top ten states for the highest

number of teen-driving fatalities per 100,000 teens. Reader's Digest

gathered data for this report from the Insurance Institute for Highway

Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.



    As the report shows, a number of factors contribute to teen accidents,

including:



    -- Speeding is a factor in 35% of crashes involving young drivers



    -- Cell phone use increases the crash risk by 300%



    -- Adding one passenger to a teen-driven car increases the fatal crash

risk by 48%; adding a second increases it by 158%



    -- 87% of teen deaths involve distracted drivers; radios rank as a top

distraction



    -- During nighttime, teens drivers are three times more likely to die

in a crash than during the day



    The younger the teen, the greater the risk. The crash rate for

16-year-olds is nearly double the rate for 19-year-olds. Yet, a recent

study by Johns Hopkins University for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

found that comprehensive driver licensing laws decrease deaths among

16-year-old drivers by 38 percent.



    "Car crashes kill far too many teenagers each year," said Andrea

Barbalich, Reader's Digest Deputy Editor. "If we can save lives by passing

laws that limit teen driving at night or require more driving time before

teens can be fully licensed, then we should all mobilize to make that

happen."



    Only 20 percent of high schools offer driver's education today as

opposed to 90 percent in the 1980s, putting the onus for keeping teens safe

squarely on parents and state governments. Accompanying the report's data

are tips for teaching a teen to drive and a graphic illustrating the

anatomy of a teen car accident, which highlights the factors that

dramatically increase a teen's risk of an accident.



    "For decades, Reader's Digest has been a vocal proponent of safer

roads," said Peggy Northrop, Reader's Digest Editor-in-Chief. "This report

is further evidence of our commitment to this issue and our hope that

readers will respond vigorously to our appeal to lobby their state

governments to pass tougher teen driving laws." A sample letter for readers

to send to elected officials is available at http://www.readersdigest.com, along

with links to additional resources on teen driving and lobbying state

representatives.



    Reader's Digest reaches nearly 40 million readers each month in the

United States and twice as many worldwide. Its U.S. website is

http://www.readersdigest.com. The magazine is published in 51 editions and 22

languages, and reaches readers in more than 60 countries. It is the

flagship of The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., a global publisher and

direct marketer of products that inform, entertain and inspire people of

all ages and cultures around the world. Global headquarters are in

Pleasantville, N.Y.





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