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Teen Driving Safety

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens age 15-19 in Utah. Each year,

  • 40 teens die from a motor vehicle crash
  • 330 teens are hospitalized due to a motor vehicle crash
  • 5,400 teens are treated and released from an emergency department due to a motor vehicle crash

In 2010, 25 teens lost their lives on Utah's roads. Over half (56%) were killed on rural roads. Read their stories...

During 2009, teen drivers age 16 had the highest total crash rate per licensed driver. Drivers age 18-19 had the highest fatal crash rate per licensed driver (2009 Utah Crash Summary Report).

Graduated Driver License

In 1998, the Utah Legislature passed a law that requires teens to put more time behind the wheel before becoming fully licensed. Graduated driver licensing allows new drivers to learn driving skills over time and gain the experience needed to become safe drivers. Teens receive a "limited drivers license" and have certain driving restrictions such as no night-time driving, limitations on who can be in the vehicle with them, and the amount of supervised driving time they must have before getting a full license. (List of all state GDL laws)

Since Utah's GDL law was passed in 1999, there has been a 61% decrease in the number of teens killed in motor vehicle crashes! Along with the Don't Drive Stupid campaign, Teen Memoriam books, and other educational activities and events, Utah continues to see a decrease in the rate of motor vehicle crashes that killed teens.

National studies show:

Seatbelt Use

Utah law requires all children under the age of 19 to be properly restrained in a motor vehicle. However, in 2010, nearly two-thirds (65%) of the teens killed in a motor vehicle crash were not wearing a seatbelt properly.

Teens have the lowest seatbelt use of any age group in Utah. Only 54.2% of occupants killed in teenage driven vehicles in 2009 were wearing a seat belt. In 2009, teen drivers and their passengers who were not wearing a seatbelt were 17 times more likely to be killed in a crash than those who were wearing a seatbelt (2009 Utah Crash Summary Report).

Passengers

The more occupants in the car the more likely a crash involved injury or death. Crashes where the teenage driven vehicle contained four or more passengers were 8.2 times more likely to be fatal than crashes involving teenage driven vehicles with fewer occupants.

Factors in Fatal Crashes

Teen drivers were three times more likely to have a contributing factor in a fatal crash than drivers of other ages. In 2010, the top five factors in a fatal crash where a teenager was driving were:

  • Speeding
  • Failure to keep in proper lane
  • Failure to yield the right-of-way
  • Distracted driving (such as distracted by passengers, cell phones, moving object in vehicle, audio/climate controls, and distraction outside of the vehicle)
  • Improper passing

Telling Your Story

If you or someone you know has lost a teen in a motor vehicle crash, we want to hear your story. Each year we publish a Teen Memorial Book which tell the stories of teens killed on Utah's roads the previous year, as told by their grieving families. The books are given to driver education instructors throughout the state. A recent survey showed 95% of students who had read the book felt other teens learning to drive should read these stories.

Click here to learn how you can share your story.