Teens with own cars have more crashes, study says
CHICAGO - Parents beware: Giving in to teens’ demands for their own cars can have dangerous consequences, new research suggests.
Teenagers with their own cars or free use of one are much more likely to get in crashes than those who share a car. And crashes are much less common among teens whose parents set clear driving safety rules.
The findings are in two studies by researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and funded by State Farm Insurance Co. They were released yesterday and are in the October issue of Pediatrics.
The researchers say the findings can help parents keep their kids from becoming a grim statistic: Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for US teens, killing more than 5,000 each year.
Getting a driver’s license and car are often viewed as rite of passage for US teens, and many parents underestimate the risks.
More than 7,000 people nationwide were killed in crashes involving teen drivers in 2007, data show. More than 3,000 of these deaths were teen drivers, and more than 250,000 teen drivers were injured.
The 2006 report encourages parents to highlight the seriousness of driving privileges by requiring teens to sign driving contracts promising to abide by safety rules.
The research is based on a nationally representative survey of more than 5,500 teens in grades nine through 11. Students at 68 high schools answered questionnaires in 2006.
Among teens who said they had their own cars or were the main drivers of cars they used, 25 percent had been involved in crashes, versus just 10 percent of teens who shared driving access.
Teens who said their parents set clear rules and monitored their whereabouts without being overly controlling had half as many crashes and much better driving habits.