A new study released by the Auto Club has found that crashes involving teen drivers ages 15 to 17 costs $2.8 billion annually in California and more than $34 billion annually nationwide. This is money that is deemed as “cost to society” – to all of us – and includes expenses such as medical, cost of lost work, property damage, quality of life loss and other related expenses for the year 2006.
These numbers were reportedly calculated based on 66,785 crashes that occurred in 2006. That includes 177 fatalities and 27,869 personal injuries, according to the report. Auto accidents involving teen drivers cause tremendous grief and trauma for the individual families involved as they deal with the deaths or serious injuries of their loved ones. But in terms of financial costs, the effects are felt by not only the families, but employers, the government and society at large.
This report was based on research conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation for AAA. Here’s the breakdown of their numbers:
Total cost of teen crashes: $34.4 billion Fatal crashes cost: $9.8 billion Cost per fatality: $3.8 million Total cost of injuries: $20.5 billion Per injury cost: $50,512 Property damage costs: $4.1 billion
These important findings make it all the more important for legislators to improve graduated driver licensing in their states. Graduate driver licensing or GDL has been a proven measure to reduce deaths and injuries from teen driver crashes. What GDL does is that it eases teens into driving by requiring them to practice more and limiting their exposure to danger by requiring them, for example, not to drive at night.
California enacted a new law in 1998 that started requiring that all new teen drivers obtain their drivers licenses through a three-step process. They are first required to go through a supervised period (with a learner’s permit) during which a teen should complete 50 hours of supervised driving. Ten of those hours must be in the night time. A parent or guardian is responsible for certifying in writing that the proper number of hours has been completed. These stringent laws have no doubt saved hundreds of lives in California. But clearly, based on these recent statistics, more needs to be done to ensure the safety of our youngest drivers. For more information about the GDL program, please visit this informative Web site.
A new California law that will go into effect July 1 that will banning teen drivers below 18 from texting or using a hand-held cell phone while driving will hopefully help a great deal to reduce distractions while driving and thereby prevent potentially fatal or major injury traffic accidents.