The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia conducted a study with the help of State Farm Insurance to examine the risks teenagers face from head trauma in sports, car accidents, and other incidents. The overall rate of fatal car crashes, as compared to the total population, has decreased nationwide in the past five to six years. The rate has also decreased in Missouri but has slightly increased in Kansas, according to statistics compiled by the study’s authors. They found car accidents to be the leading cause of head trauma among teens, defined generally as age 15 to 19.
The study authors credit stringently-enforced graduated driver’s license (GDL) laws with keeping teen traffic fatality rates low in states like Arizona, Connecticut, and New York. GDL laws allow certain privileges for young drivers, increasing their ability to drive over time and as they reach certain benchmarks. This could include driving safety classes or driving practice supervised by an adult. Curfews and limits on the number of passengers a teen driver may have are common restrictions. GDL laws can also regulate drivers with physical or mental impairments who cannot safely operate a vehicle under certain conditions. Penalties for violating GDL laws typically involve license suspension.
Missouri’s GDL law prohibits 16- to 18-year-old drivers, during the first six months, from having more than one passenger who is not an immediate family member, and then restricts the number to three. It also restricts driving privileges between 1:00 and 5:00 a.m.
The GDL law in Kansas is far less stringent. It allows drivers age 15 or older to drive with few restrictions if driving to or from employment or farm work. If a teen driver is not going to or from work, the law generally prevents the driver from driving between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., and it restricts them to one non-family minor passenger. It prohibits all cell phone use while driving, except in emergencies.
The study found that the leading cause of death among teens in 2009, nationwide, was car accidents. Car accidents, including both teen drivers and their passengers, accounted for twenty percent of the 11,520 teen fatalities that year, with homicide and suicide accounting for seventeen and fourteen percent, respectively. In 2010, the total number of teen deaths in traffic, which includes teen drivers and their passengers, teen passengers in other vehicles, and teens not riding in passenger vehicles, was 3,413. This was a forty-two percent decrease from 2005’s total of 5,889 fatalities.
Missouri saw a decrease in the rate of teen traffic fatalities, dropping by over fifty-four percent from a rate of 30.3 per 100,000 population to a rate of 13.9. Kansas, on the other hand, was one of only two states to see an increase in the teen traffic fatality rate, along with Montana. Kansas ranked seventh-to-last among U.S. states, with a current rate of 19.9 per 100,000. This is an increase of almost two percent from the 2005 rate.
Kansas City auto accident attorney Doug Horn advocates safe driving and represents the rights of people who have suffered injuries or lost loved ones in auto accidents. For a free and confidential consultation, contact the firm today online or at (816) 795-7500.