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Jana Tidwell
Public Relations Manager, PA
O: (302) 299-4426
C: (302) 353-6563

Kathleen Zinszer
Sr. Public Aff. Specialist, CT/DE/NJ/PA
O: (302) 299-4168
C: (610) 291-7312

New Teen Drivers Three Times as Likely to

Be Involved in a Deadly Crash


Pennsylvanians believe cell phone distraction is the biggest reason for teen driver crashes


Teen Driver B Roll Here


PHILADELPHIA, PA, (June 1, 2017) – New teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This alarming finding comes as the “100 Deadliest Days” begin, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year. Over the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during this deadly period.


PennDOT data shows that in 2016, 16 and 17 year-olds were involved in 6,671 crashes in Pennsylvania, a 6.3 percent increase over 2015 crashes and a 15.8 percent increase over 2014 crashes.  Locally, 1,546 (23 percent) crashes occurred in the Philadelphia 5-county area.


Crashes Involving 16-17 Year Old Drivers – Three Year Trend (2014-2016)





Bucks County




Chester County




Delaware County




Montgomery County




Philadelphia County




TOTAL 5-County








PennDOT Crash Statistics


“Statistics show that teen crashes spike during the summer months because teens are out of school and on the road,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “The Foundation’s research found that inexperience paired with greater exposure on the road could create a deadly combination for teen drivers.”


The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s latest study, Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age, analyzes crash rates per mile driven for all drivers and found that for every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 years old are:

  • 3.9 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash

  • 2.6 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash

  • 4.5 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a crash

  • 3.2 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a fatal crash


Fatal teen crashes are on the rise. The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2015 crash data, the latest data available.


Three factors that commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers are:

  • Distraction: Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smart phone.

  • Not Buckling Up: In 2015, the latest data available, 60 percent of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash.

  • Speeding: Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. A recent AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive.


Pennsylvanians Polled about Teen Drivers

In a survey of Pennsylvania drivers, AAA Mid-Atlantic found that 48 percent of those surveyed thought that the biggest reason for teen driving crashes was distraction by cell phone. That 48 percent was higher than other reasons (lack of driving experience, distraction by passengers, and drinking and driving) combined. When asked what the best way to prevent teen driver crashes was, 48 percent of respondents believe combining stronger penalties for distracted driving, more active guidance by parents, more practice behind the wheel, and more driver education was the answer.


AAA Recommends

AAA recommends every state implement the following teen driver safety recommendations:

  • One non-family member passenger younger than age 20 in the car for at least the first six months of licensure

  • A complete wireless device ban for all drivers younger than 18

  • Complete texting ban while driving for all drivers

  • A standard seat belt enforcement law for all vehicle occupants


Pennsylvania currently meets only one of AAA’s recommendations completely – a complete text messaging ban, implemented in March of 2012.  However, that could change as Sen. John C. Rafferty Jr. (R-Montgomery), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and Sen. John Sabatina Jr., (D-Philadelphia), the committee's minority chairman, recently announced their intention to propose a bill that would soon make it illegal for 16- and 17-year old drivers to use cellphones while driving.


To help reverse the alarming trend of fatal teen crashes, AAA urges parents to get more involved and talk to their teens about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel.


“Parents are the front line of defense for keeping our roads safer this summer,” continued Tidwell. “It all starts with educating teens about safety on the road and modeling good behavior, like staying off the phone and buckling your safety belt.”


To keep roads safer this summer, AAA encourages parents to:

  • Have conversations with their teens early and often about distraction and speeding. has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges. Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills. AAA also offers membership discounts for new teen drivers to help keep them safe on the road in case of an emergency.


About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit .


About AAA: As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at




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Mailing Address:
7777 Brewster Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19159

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Pennsylvania.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android.  For more information, visit

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