Genie Clemens, youth coordinator for the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, says 22 Iowans under the age of 20 were killed in crashes last year. “Any life lost in a motor vehicle crash is too many,” Clemens says, “so we’re doing everything we can to help teens and other drivers to remember to drive safely and always wear their seat belts, obey the laws and obviously, not drive distracted.”
In 2016, there were nearly 2,300 people killed in crashes involving a teen driver nationwide, and 814 of those killed were the teen drivers. Clemens says alcohol and drugs often play a factor in teen crashes and the odds are worse if a teen driver has one or more teen passengers.
“In 2016, nearly one out of every five teen drivers was involved in a fatality crash,” Clemens says. “They actually had been drinking. That’s a sad statistic and we need to do everything we can to prevent our teens from using alcohol and drugs.” The radio, the cell phone and passengers can all create potentially-deadly distractions for teen drivers, and Clemens warns them to pay attention to the task at hand — driving.
“In 2016, among teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, 10% were reported as distracted at the time of the crash,” Clemens says. “We know that our teens are definitely always connected to their phones, but when they’re driving, they should be putting those phones down and focusing strictly on their driving.”
A Triple-A study found that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rate for all people involved in a crash increased 51%.
(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)