Teen drivers often make mistakes and sometimes get into crashes. That’s true everywhere, but a new report pegs Louisiana as one of the worst states for teen drivers. What is truly disturbing about the report from carinsurance.com are the reasons behind Louisiana’s bad ranking are so fixable.
The report says Louisiana is the third-most dangerous state for teen drivers. North Dakota and Montana are the worst, and Massachusetts, Maryland and Alaska are the safest.
Louisiana got low marks in part because our teens are more prone to driving while drinking, texting and emailing. Using survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the report says 9 percent of Louisiana high school students, ages 16 and over, drink and drive. The same survey said 49 percent of those students also text and email while driving. Only Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming had worse results than Louisiana in those categories.
How much does this risky behavior cost? The report says car insurance for teens costs about 60 percent more in Louisiana (about $6,100 a year in Louisiana versus the national average of about $3,800 a year). More importantly, Louisiana teen drivers also are 60 percent more likely than teens in other states to die in an automobile crash.
Unfortunately, the problem may be getting worse. Preliminary statistics show injuries and fatalities among Louisiana teen drivers may be on the rise after two straight years of decline. Unofficial results from 2015 show there were 7,617 injury crashes in Louisiana involving teens, an 11 percent increase from 2014. Those same statistics showed that 64 teen drivers were killed in 2015, compared with 58 in 2014.
There’s no great sociological or cultural mystery to any of this. It’s really quite simple: If you drink, text or email while driving, you’re more likely to get into a crash and die. Our teen drivers are drinking, texting and emailing while driving, and they are getting into crashes and dying.
There is something adults can do. Lead by example. If your teenage son or daughter sees you having a couple of beers or a glass of wine before getting behind the wheel, they’re going to think that behavior is OK. If you’re looking at your phone while driving, you’re sending more than a text message. You’re sending a message to your kids that texting/emailing while driving is acceptable.
Lead by example. Then, talk to your kids about safe driving habits. Your actions will speak louder than words.
executive director, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission